Environmentalists have been burned by the Obama administration before on smog regulations. Now they’re worried that it’s about to happen again.
The Environmental Protection Agency is under a court order to finalize a rule tightening standards for ground-level ozone by Oct. 1. That’s the same air-quality rule that was pulled by the White House in 2011 over economic concerns, a move that left the environmental community incensed.
Deep into a second term where President Obama has been aggressive on environmental issues, the ozone rule won’t be yanked again. But environmentalists are now girding themselves for another disappointment: that the standard won’t be tight enough.
Sources familiar with the discussions say that the EPA is pushing to lower the ozone standard of 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb, the high end of the 65-70 ppb range that the agency proposed last fall.
The White House could lower the final standard down to 68 ppb, a seemingly minor tweak, but one that could require dramatically more pollution control. With days to go before a decision comes out, environmentalists are making the case that 70 ppb just won’t be enough, even as they prepare for it.
A 70 ppb standard “would be a betrayal of the Clean Air Act’s promise of healthy air and a betrayal of the millions of kids and seniors and asthmatics who will not receive the protection that doctors say they need by such a standard,” said David Baron, a managing attorney for Earthjustice.