Art offers his perspective as a movement progressive activist.


Boy every day has another great jaw dropper doesn’t it? Today Obama told the EPA to halt stronger regulations on smog pollution. Obama claims, like every major Republican candidate, that such regulations would harm the economy. What a laugh, and a betrayal to the health of the people. The best part is now we won’t even get Bush’s rules on this but those going back to 1997 which were even weaker.

Ozone kills thousands of Americans per year. Science proves that. This move is so blatantly craven by Obama it is nauseating. Worse POTUS is parroting Right wing talking points, the same ones used by Rick Perry and the rest. More:

…the White House announced that it’s not going to have any new rules. On a call with reporters, White House officials argued that it doesn’t make sense to put out new rules in 2011 when there’s going to be another scheduled review of the ozone science in 2013.

But critics say that this reasoning is flawed. For one, notes Amy Royden-Bloom of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, if the EPA did issue a new ozone standard this year, then it could always just postpone its next scientific review until 2016, in line with the law. Second, notes Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, there’s no reason to think that a brand-new ozone standard will actually be issued by 2013. That’s just when the scientific review is due. Crafting new rules will take longer than that, given the inevitable delays and lawsuits. “I’d say three years, minimum,” says O’Donnell. (When I asked White House officials about this, they said they weren’t sure how long it would take.) And third, says Paul Billings of the ALA, it’s not clear that the science on ozone and human health will change dramatically between now and 2013 ““ if anything, the case for regulating ozone is likely to get stronger.

So what happens now? Right now, most states are still operating under the old 1997 standards. The EPA had earlier directed states not to follow the (somewhat stricter) 2008 Bush standards, because it was working on even tighter rules. But now those tighter rules aren’t happening. As Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies told me, the EPA now has the option of directing states to follow the Bush-era rules, but that seems unlikely, given the White House’s preference to wait until the 2013 review. Which means states would keep operating under the old 1997 standards, which are more lax than even what the Bush administration had proposed. “We would have stricter protections right now if we had just followed the Bush-era rules back in 2008,” says Becker.

And it’s unclear whether the ozone rules will get updated anytime soon. Becker notes that with each delay, the political debate over ratcheting up the standard becomes fiercer and fiercer, because the costs of compliance of any new rule will go up. And if a new president hostile to environmental regulation comes into office ““ Rick Perry, say ““ then the EPA may never get around to issuing new ozone rules.

Get it? A great gift to big business today and possibly one polluters will have for many years to come.

Good thing groups are filing suit against Obama’s latest poor decision. Of note the American Lung Association is filing suit for all us breathers out there who do not want to get cancer from poor air quality.

Right before Obama’s big jobs speech comes this big gift to polluters, some think to placate the Chamber of Commerce for 2012. With zero jobs for August Obama came out with the GOP meme that regulations are indeed bad for the economy. Seen this movie before? It ends badly for Democrats usually.

UPDATE: Get this. Some folks are happy:

Industry officials and Republican leaders crowed about the news. “This sudden admission by President Obama that ill-considered regulations do, in fact, have a negative impact upon our economy is a welcome breakthrough,” Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), chairman of its Energy and Power Subcommittee, said in a statement. “With the president’s change of heart on regulations, we welcome his support in having our pro-jobs and pro-growth measures signed into law.”