On Wednesday, the Obama administration is expected to publicly release a controversial and long expected environmental regulation to limit smog pollution. The regulations had been awaited by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other environmental and public health concerned organizations for over six years, since Bush administration.
In early 2010, after revising previous regulations on ozone emissions, EPA recommended the new administration to lower the current ozone pollution standards from 75 parts per billion to a limit ranging from 60 to 70 parts per billion. EPA said back then ozone pollution and smog led to several lung and heart diseases in the most vulnerable population groups.
“Ozone is not only killing people, but causing tens of millions of people to get sick every day,”
William Becker, representative of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, said.
In 2011, president Obama blocked any EPA activity on the issue because, he said, it was just another regulatory burden for the industry.
Two years later, The American Lung Association and several other environmental groups sued the Obama administration for this and won.
The federal court decided EPA would propose new standards for the ground level ozone amount on December 1. This action will bring the US to meet the public health requirements on smog pollution in other industrialized countries.
The European Union limits its ozone emissions to 60 parts per billion, while Canada has a 63 parts per billion standard. The US’ 75 parts per billion limit is a compromise made by the Bush administration owing the intense lobby coming from oil and gas industries.
“It’s a big task for the president, an opportunity to fix a past mistake. I think he is feeling emboldened to make some legacy moves here,”
Paul Billings, spokesman for the American Lung Association, said.
Last week, the Republican senators complained to the White House about the new EPA rules, saying they were too costly for American industry, and one of the most expensive regulations in US history. Environment activists this is just another move made by the oil industry.
Although the US Government announced new Smog restrictions that will be the most expensive regulations in history, health specialists are not pleased. They fear that the Obama administration, due to industry’s intense lobby, will choose a limit closer to 70 parts per billion, instead of the lower end of the range proposed by EPA. A 70 parts per billion limit, specialists said, provides little safety for the protection of population groups affected by lung diseases, such as asthma.