Obama Won’t Deal With Smog Just Yet

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The Obama administration decided on Friday to overrule the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to crack down on air-quality standards nationwide. President Obama insisted in a statement that he remains committed to environmental regulation. "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," he said. "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." Instead, the White House will stick with 2008's standard, set by the Bush administration until at least 2013.

The proposal for new rules, which faced opposition from Republicans and industry lobbyists, would have "thrown hundreds of American counties out of compliance with the Clean Air Act," the New York Times reports. "It would have required a major effort by state and local officials, as well as new emissions controls by industries and across the country." But critics are already snapping back:

League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski issued the following statement:

"The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe," Mr. Karpinski said. "This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health."

The Times puts today's decision in a more clear context: In an economy this bad, the new rule "would have created political problems" for any Democrat seeking election.

Obama Pulls Back Proposal to Tighten Clean Air Rules [NYT]