Tuesday, January 15, 2008

News notes: which ex-governor boasted of representing polluters against tougher smog standards? And more...

Often we see politicians fronting for special interests…but not always do they actually headline that fact! But it’s happened with the ongoing behind-the-scenes struggle over EPA’s national smog standards. Read on for more on this… why we’re alarmed about a possible EPA move to kill lead standards… the hypocrisy of some big companies on global warming, and more.


Smoggy stories: One of the biggest, yet least publicized environmental stories of the year is the US EPA’s ongoing review of national health standards for ozone, or smog. EPA Administrator Steve Johnson is under court order to make a decision by March. But interest groups have been pouring on the pressure in the last few weeks in an effort to block or minimize any changes. The big polluter lobby, the National Association of Manufacturers (which, as a diversionary tactic, appears to have declared war on Clean Air Watch along with other progressives like California AG Jerry Brown http://blog.nam.org/archives/2008/01/the_rhetoric_of.php), has been stirring up various governors against tougher standards.

Usually they don’t admit they’re fronting for industry, but an ex-gov did: former North Carolina Governor James Martin. Martin, once a chemistry professor, argued that cleaning up smog might be costly for industry. (In the process, of course, he was arguing for EPA to do something illegal, since the Supreme Court has noted that EPA cannot take costs into consideration in setting these standards.) Johnson, of course, appears comfortable with doing things of dubious legality, as we learned when he rejected California’s request to enforce its vehicle standards for greenhouse gases. Another notable ex-pol making a similar do-something-illegal pitch was former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.


Lead lining: Another battle is taking place over a national air standard – this one involves lead. As we noted last December, http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html
the Bush administration has suggested – all scientific evidence to the contrary – that it might keep the too-weak current standard, or eliminate the standard altogether! (Why is it bad to have lead in paint or imported toys, but ok to have it in the air?) The public comment closes tomorrow on EPA’s trial lead balloon. We support efforts by our friends at NRDC, who are spearheading efforts to urge EPA to drop this obviously foolish idea of abandoning the lead standard.

Corporate hypocrisy: As we noted last month, http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007_12_01_archive.html
the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has begun running commercials attacking the so-called Lieberman-Warner climate legislation. Friends tell us this commercial is running not just on Youtube http://www.uschamber.com/press/ads/advocate_climatechange.htm but is also showing up in presidential primary states and in some airports.

One of the more interesting features of this trash talk is the fact that the Chamber’s board of directors includes officials from various companies that are ALSO part of the do-something-about-global warming coalition called US Climate Action Partnership, or USCAP http://www.us-cap.org/ Noteworthy members of both include General Electric, Duke Energy, Caterpillar, and Dow Chemical. Do these companies not know that their chamber dues are going to attack ads? Or are they simply hypocrites?

General Electric, of course, has been the epitome of hypocrisy in slowing up plans by the US EPA to set new pollution standards for diesel trains and medium-sized diesel ships. http://blogforcleanair.blogspot.com/2007/02/hypocritical-ge-lobbies-against.html. Final EPA standards are languishing now at the White House Office of Management and Budget. http://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/eoViewRule?ruleID=281682 Every day of delay means more kids will get sick from this stuff. We encourage the White House to let EPA move forward immediately to put new standards into effect – and hope that GE has a change of heart. Our friends at Environmental Defense should have move on the health effects angle shortly.

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