Published September 17, 2009
EPA to scrap Bush-era smog rule, start overDINA CAPPIELLO; The Associated Press
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration signaled Wednesday that it would scrap a controversial Bush-era rule that set stricter limits for smog but fell short of scientific recommendations. In a notice filed Wednesday in a federal appeals court, the Justice Department says there are concerns that the revision made by the Bush administration does not adhere to federal air pollution law. The Environmental Protection Agency will propose revised smog standards to protect health and the environment in December. “This is one of the most important protection measures we can take to safeguard our health and our environment,” said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in a statement. “Reconsidering these standards and ensuring acceptable levels of ground-level ozone could cut health care costs and make our cities healthier, safer places to live, work and play.” Smog is a respiratory irritant that can aggravate asthma and has been linked to heart attacks. The Bush regulation, announced in March 2008, was the subject of much controversy. While stronger than the previous rule, it wasn’t as tough as the government’s independent scientific advisers had recommended. Documents later showed that President George W. Bush had intervened personally on the level of smog protection for wildlife, farmlands, parks and open spaces. EPA officials had wanted to make this secondary standard stronger than the one to protect human health. But the White House sided with its budget office, where officials argued that the two standards should be the same. Eleven states and a number of health and environmental organizations filed suit against the Bush regulation, arguing that it ignored the recommendation of a key panel of scientists that had recommended tougher standards.