Friday, June 22, 2007

Clean Air Watch: Why Does EPA Dither Over Smog?

(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 Most disturbingly, it has left open the door to keeping the current standards, which are outdated and don’t reflect recent science.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.


1 comment:

texastoxic said...

Thanks. Totally agree. I am looking for the complete transcripts of Johnson's conference call. The excerpts are somewhat disturbing, but we should have every word. Please post link if you can find one, otherwise, I would transcribe if there is any recording available.
Thanks again.

The dithering:

The EPA's decision to take comments on keeping the current standard was decried by environmentalists but welcomed by business and industry groups that have been lobbying for the status quo, saying changing ozone standards would be costly and unnecessary.

"Based upon the current science I have concluded that the current standard is insufficient to protect public health," EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson told reporters on a conference call, noting that ozone can harm the lungs, especially in children and old people, and aggravate asthma.

Johnson was asked repeatedly to explain why he would accept comment on keeping a standard that he himself, a career scientist, has determined doesn't protect health.

"Based upon the science, I do not believe there is scientific justification for retaining the current standard. Hence I am proposing to toughen the standard," he said. "But I am taking comment on the full range of what I have heard people ask for."

Incidentally, an API representative --off any record--said that as long as there isn't a level that doesn't damage health, why lower the standard?

My response was appropriate.