(Washington, D.C., June 21, 2007) -- The following is a statement by Frank O’Donnell, president of the non-profit Clean Air Watch on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed new standards for ozone, or smog:
EPA’s smog proposal sends a mixed message:
The good news is that EPA agrees that current smog standards are too weak to protect people’s health. Its proposal would be a step in the right direction, though weaker than the standards recommended by EPA’s science advisers.
But EPA is also inviting comments on keeping the existing standards.
That’s an outrageous idea, driven by politics instead of science.
Why is EPA dithering? Evidence points to the secret hand of the White House.
We know that industry has aggressively lobbied the White House to force EPA to consider keeping the current standards. And we also know that in a separate, related rule, the White House forced EPA to pretend that smog doesn’t kill.
The science is crystal-clear that we need better standards to protect kids with asthma and millions of other breathers. Every credible scientist says so.
But EPA seems to be hedging its bets. It has suggested a range of possibilities. Most disturbingly, it has left open the door to keeping the current standards, which are outdated and don’t reflect recent science.
This suggests that recent polluter visits to the White House helped shape this decision. It raises huge concerns about what EPA will do with its final decision. Why leave the door open to doing something you know is wrong -- unless that came from political pressure?
It’s time for the White House to stop promoting the interests of its polluter friends, and permit EPA to do its job – to protect people’s health.