President Obama has reversed course on proposed smog standards, a victory for business interests that had decried the smog restrictions on the grounds that they should be postponed — until at least 2013 — due to the recession.
The Environmental Protection Agency had asked that new rules to reduce pollution be imposed on states and businesses to target smog, or ground-level ozone, from cars, industrial plants and other sources. EPA administrator Lisa Jackson had been working to revise a 2008 rule put in effect during the George W. Bush administration.
In a statement released by the White House, President Obama cited work on a 2006 review and a new review in 2013, saying “I want to be clear: my commitment and the commitment of my administration to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering.” He pointed to economic recovery and “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” for the delay.
According to The New York Times:
The issue had become a flashpoint between the administration and Republicans in Congress, who held up the proposed ozone rule as a test of the White Houses commitment to regulatory reform and job creation. Imposing the new rule before the 2012 election would have created political problems for the administration and for Democrats nationwide seeking election in a brittle economy.
Environmental groups are expressing disappointment at the decision. In a statement, League of Conservations Voters President Gene Karpinski said “[t]he Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe” and called the decision a “huge loss for public health.” The American Lung Association had also advocated for the new rules.