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Obama Delays Ozone Rule, Giving in to Regulatory Rollback Demanded By GOP

The Obama Administration has decided to delay new ozone standards which the EPA had already written, claiming that “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” outweighs clean air.

In a statement, the President writes that “I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time,” delaying the reconsideration of the standard until 2013. This allows polluting companies to work under the old standard for the next two years. This was at the top of the list for regulatory repeals from House Republicans.

Complying with the new regulation could have cost from $20 billion to $90 billion annually, making it by far the most expensive new rule on the federal books. It topped the list of proposed regulations that could cost more than $1 billion demanded recently by House Speaker John Boehner.

“We’re glad that the White House responded to the speaker’s letter and recognized the job-killing impact of this particular regulation,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “But it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stopping Washington Democrats’ agenda of tax hikes, more government ‘stimulus’ spending, and increased regulations, which are all making it harder to create more American jobs.”

So strangely, after conceding a demand from the opposition, the opposition isn’t satisfied and wants more concessions! Who’d-a thunk it.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, whose authority was completely undermined by this announcement, released this statement:

Since day one, under President Obama’s leadership, EPA has worked to ensure health protections for the American people, and has made tremendous progress to ensure that Clean Air Act standards protect all Americans by reducing our exposures to harmful air pollution like mercury, arsenic and carbon dioxide.  This Administration has put in place some of the most important standards and safeguards for clean air in U.S. history: the most significant reduction of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide air pollution across state borders; a long-overdue proposal to finally cut mercury pollution from power plants; and the first-ever carbon pollution standards for cars and trucks.  We will revisit the ozone standard, in compliance with the Clean Air Act.

In other words, “we’ve done good stuff, don’t pay attention to this climb-down.

The President stressed that “my commitment and the commitment of my administration to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering.” Good thing!

This kind of regulatory rollback has been on the wish list of the Chamber of Commerce for some time. Similar ozone rules put into place by some local governments in the late 1990s correlate with higher job growth in those communities than the national average. The President’s statement focuses on all of the costs of implementing new rules and none of the benefits, to public health, public safety and quality of life. And those benefits are tangible and far outweigh the costs. This only helps businesses that want to pollute and don’t want to pay the costs of upgrading their facilities.

Even the veal-pen enviro groups are mad about this one:

“The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe,” said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters. “This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health.”

“Slow-walking is no way to govern when it comes to protecting the health of all Americans, especially children and the elderly, the most vulnerable among us,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Our public officials, including those in the White House, are there to protect us from harm. They need to get on with doing their jobs.”


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David Dayen

David Dayen