(Washington, D.C., January 7, 2010) – The non-profit Clean Air Watch today hailed the Environmental Protection Agency’s new smog proposal as a “breath of fresh air.”
The EPA today proposed to set tougher national standards for ground-level ozone, commonly referred to as smog.
“Smog is the nation’s most widespread air pollutant and one of the most dangerous,” noted Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch. “Smog can make us sick. It can send us to the hospital. It can literally kill.”
O’Donnell called today’s announcement “a breath of fresh air from the government.” He added “it could translate into fresher air for every American.”
Technically, the EPA is proposing to reconsider a decision made in 2008 while President Bush was in office. At that time, the EPA rejected the unanimous recommendations of EPA’s science advisers and set standards that were too weak to protect public health and the environment. It was disclosed that President Bush personally intervened to weaken part of the EPA standards.
By contrast, the new EPA plan would follow the recommendations of the science advisers. The agency proposed a range of possible public health standards – all of them tougher than those put forth by the Bush administration. EPA also proposed special smog protection for the environment, including plants and trees.
EPA deferred a final decision until August, and O’Donnell predicted that “big polluters will mobilize in opposition.” He noted that oil industry lobbyists have already been to the White House to protest tougher standards.
“This EPA decision will determine the quality of the air we breathe in America for the next decade, and probably beyond. If EPA follows through, it will mean significantly cleaner air and better health protection,” O’Donnell added.
Clean Air Watch will join the American Lung Association and other health advocates to press for the best possible standards.