The EPA was set to soon implement tough new regulations that would restrict the production of ozone. President Obama has decided to ignore the advice of his own EPA director, Lisa Jackson, and direct her to shelve the new standards for now. From the official White House statement:
Over the last two and half years, my administration, under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has taken some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act four decades ago to protect our environment and the health of our families from air pollution. From reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from outdated power plants to doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, the historic steps we’ve taken will save tens of thousands of lives each year, remove over a billion tons of pollution from our air, and produce hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits for the American people.
At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time. Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.
The big winners are corporations that pollute. The big losers are individuals with respiratory problems, such as kids with asthma and those who live in urban environments. Research has found that people who live in areas with high levels of ozone, mainly big cities, are significantly more likely to die of lung cancer.
The other minor winner from Obama’s decision is the Republican economic framing. By using the GOP talking point of “regulatory uncertainty” to justify this decision, Obama is helping to re-enforce the Republican narrative that it is Obama’s flood of new regulation that is holding back the economy instead of a lack of demand.