Monday, June 18, 2007

With DC wheezing under smog attack, EPA considers tougher smog standards, and more..

With dirty air plaguing much of the East and Midwest – including the DC area – the moment of truth is coming for the US EPA and its review of national health standards for ozone.

EPA must issue a proposed decision by Wednesday June 20. Every credible scientist says the current standards need to be made better. But industry is revving up its campaign against tougher standards. Please see more below.

Smog showdown: As you know, EPA’s science advisers have unanimously called on the EPA to set significantly tougher smog standards to protect kids with asthma and others. Industry groups have argued that EPA should consider a “range” of options, including that of keeping the current standard. Keep watching this space for more…

Industry mobilizes: We’ve noted earlier that the car, oil, electric power, chemical and other industry groups have taken their plea directly to the White House. We believe industry has also motivated a number of governors and local elected officials to protest to EPA as well. (Funny how the governors use the same language as the industry lobbyists…) Tomorrow, industry groups will begin their effort to shape public opinion. The National Association of Manufacturers has scheduled a “roundtable” tomorrow to talk about the horrors it claims would ensue if EPA actually set tougher standards. Apparently NAM plans to argue that tougher standards would amount to a “hidden tax” on energy prices. (After all, it is trendy to link things to high energy costs.)

We’d counter that dirty air is a hidden tax on breathers.

Café clash: The Senate may begin voting tomorrow again on provisions of the pending energy bill. One certain battle will involve fuel economy standards. Senators sympathetic to the auto industry (led by Carl Levin and Kit Bond) will try to sideswipe proposed tougher standards and replace them with the equivalent of a clunker.

Hot seat: EPA Administrator Steve Johnson may be on the hot seat Thursday, as he appears before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. The committee wants to examine the status of California’s pending request to enforce its greenhouse gas standards for motor vehicles. (Last week Johnson told California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that he would reveal his timetable for a decision this Friday.)

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