Friday, March 04, 2011

EPA science advisers: set a tougher smog standard already!

Most of the environmental press has been focused, understandably, on the attempts in Congress to submarine the EPA's authority to limit greenhouse gases.

But there are other big issues pending, including an EPA proposal to set a tougher national health standard for ozone, or smog. You will recall that the EPA proposed in January 2010 to set a standard within the range recommended unanimously by EPA's science advisers.

But (we think) because of fierce industry opposition and the changing political atmosphere, EPA has repeatedly delayed a final decision, and has bucked the issue back to the science advisers.

And the science advisers appear to be getting just a mite testy over all this, because the science related to this decision hasn't changed.

In a draft letter the scientists reiterate their support for a new national ozone standard between 60 and 70 parts per billion. The letter also says this additional advice seems "redundant" since the scientists twice before had urged the agency to set a standard within that range. (You will recall that the Bush administration ignored that unanimous advice and set a weaker standard, which EPA technically is reconsidering.)

Maybe the EPA will finally get moving and do the right thing to protect our health. After all, ozone not only can make us sick, but it can actually shorten our lives.

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