Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Developments as DC gasps under a "code red" alert

As you know, much of the nation, including the DC area, is gasping under various “code red” alerts for today. If President Bush were an environmentalist, perhaps he would be overheard saying “What they need to do is get EPA to tell those polluters to stop doing this s…..”

Without that, however, we are stuck with the facts, which include:

** Tomorrow morning’s Senate hearing, in which Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) will try to pressure the EPA to prevent the agency from setting tougher national health standards for particle soot. Inhofe has sought to stack the panel with “scientists” outside the mainstream, including power industry consultant Anne Smith and former veterinarian Roger McClellan. (McClellan, one of EPA’s outside science advisers, was way out of step with his colleagues. He was one of only two, out of 22, who dissented with their recommendation that EPA set better standards.)

**Our 1 pm briefing tomorrow, in which we will explore the science from a public health perspective sadly lacking from Senator Inhofe. http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=69349
**And now comes word that EPA scientists may suggest tougher standards for yet another pollutant – ozone, or smog – the very item that is plaguing our lungs today. EPA has just published part of its new staff assessment of the issue. See at
http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/ozone/data/o3sp2d_chs_1-5_7-8_20060718.pdf

What they left OUT of this assessment was the key chapter – Chapter 6, in which the EPA career staffers are supposed to make their recommendations as to whether the existing smog standards are tough enough.

However, we do understand that EPA is going to tell us, via a press release, the staff is considering recommendation that would, at least on paper, include the possibility of a tougher new national standard.

But watch out for the fine print! What we won’t know until we see the details is if it’s REALLY a recommendation to make the standard tougher – as we think EPA should – or whether it might include loopholes that could actually weaken current standards (for example, by permitting more dirty-air “mulligans” each year.)

Stay tuned.

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