Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Some thoughts on EPA's ozone action today
As you probably know by now, the US EPA issued its official list of areas out of compliance with the 2008 Bush era ozone or smog standards. http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/designations/2008standards/regs.htm We don’t need to rehash the obvious – that medical science has shown that without a doubt, these standards are not tough enough to protect people’s health. But President Obama went into re-election mode very early and shut down EPA’s effort to correct the Bush wrong. However, the current EPA is moving ahead to put the now-outmoded standards into effect. There may well be some controversies involved. (EPA used the 3-year average of 2008-2010 to make these designations. Had it included the more recent 2011, some exempted areas such as Detroit and Louisville would have been included.) And even more areas may show up as “dirty” in the future once the unusually recession-prompted “clean” year of 2009 is dropped from the 3-year average. One thing is certain: today’s action shows that low-sulfur gasoline is absolutely critical to reducing smog levels across the nation. Now that gasoline prices are dropping – and even the dumbest demagogues can no longer blame EPA – we urge the House Energy and Commerce Committee to drop plans to kneecap EPA authority to see cleaner gas standards and to gut the process for setting smog standards. (A markup is rumored next week.) And we urge the White House to show some leadership by permitting EPA to move ahead with low-sulfur gas as a vital step to deal with the smog problem.