Saturday, April 20, 2013

EPA science manager: 'I feel like we failed' on smog update because of oil industry's political clout

Here is a brief excerpt of an excellent story in the April 22, 2013 edition of Bloomberg BNA Daily Environment Report.

It gets to the heart of some fundamental issues, including the clash between medical science and polluter money-driven political science:

EPA Committee Concerned Ozone Standard
May Not Adequately Protect Children
 
Members of an Environmental Protection Agency advisory committee voiced concerns April 18 that conditions making early life a vulnerable period for respiratory and other health problems ozone causes may not adequately be considered by the agency as it sets a new ozone air quality standard.

[Here is the meeting agenda: 1.usa.gov/13nAWmY ]
 
The American Petroleum Institute and other regulated industries use uncertainty about science as justification to push for less stringent standards than some advisers have sought in the past, said James Brown, project manager for EPA's ozone integrated science assessment, who briefed the committee on the status of the agency's ozone evaluation and scientific information it contains that addresses early life exposures. Brown said he was describing political dynamics he observed personally as a lung biologist for 13 years, and that he was not voicing an EPA position...
 
 



EPA set the standard at 75 ppb in 2008. After President Obama took office in January 2009, EPA said it would reconsider the 75 ppb standard. Obama eventually blocked the agency from issuing the reconsidered rule...

“Industry has a lot of power,” and it uses uncertainties to argue for policies it supports, [Brown] said.

Many scientists were “crestfallen” when they learned that the review of the 2008 standard that Obama ordered would not result in a standard that was as health-protective as they thought it should be, Brown said...

“I don't know how public health [arguments] can carry the same weight as money does,” Brown said. “I don't know how uncertainty can be used to argue for protection. I feel like we've failed.”

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