Obama to EPA: Back down from new ozone regulations

Matthew Boyle | Investigative Reporter

President Barack Obama has told his Environmental Protection Agency to back down from new ozone level standards the agency has been pushing.

The EPA had aimed to reduce the acceptable level of ozone in any given region from 75 parts per billion to between 60 and 70 parts per billion. If they were implemented, the regulations would have forced local governments that fail to attain this goal to develop their ozone-reduction plans.

On Friday, however, Obama announced that he doesn’t support the regulations. “The President has instructed me to return this rule to you for reconsideration,” Obama’s regulatory czar Cass Sunstein wrote to EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. “He has made it clear that he does not support finalizing the rule at this time.”

Sunstein wrote that Obama has told him to “work closely with all executive agencies and departments” to “implement” the president’s executive order aimed at cutting back on regulations. “The President has instructed me to give careful scrutiny to all regulations that impose significant costs on the private sector or on state, local or tribal governments,” Sunstein’s letter explains.

The EPA ultimatum comes mere hours after August jobs numbers came out showing a net total of zero new jobs in August.

“This letter is perfectly timed with today’s announcement that the economy produced zero jobs in August, the first time this has occurred since the end of WWII,” Rick Manning of Americans for Limited Government told The Daily Caller. “The letter details a litany of job killing actions by the EPA during Obama’s presidency while delaying the issuance of one more economy-destoying rule. If the President was serious, he would fire Lisa Jackson and rescind her regulatory war on coal and other fossil fuels.”

As additional reasoning for why Obama shot down the EPA rule, Sunstein cites critics’ existing complaints: the Bush administration’s new standards in 2008, and the Clean Air Act’s lack of a requirement for the EPA to revisit standards until 2013.

“The Act explicitly sets out a five-year cycle for review of national ambient air quality standards,” Sunstein wrote to Jackson. Issuing new standards before 2013, Sunstein says, “would be problematic in view of the fact that a new assessment, and potentially new standards, will be developed in the relatively near future.”

Sunstein wrote that the administration isn’t convinced ozone level recommendations from the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee are “based on the best available science.” The most recent CASAC report is from 2006, and Sunstein said Obama wants a more “current … scientific assessment” before implementing new, stricter regulations.

Sunstein also says says Jackson’s EPA has already regulated ozone and other pollution standards at an “unprecedented” level. He says Jackson has already reached many “truly historic achievements in protecting public health by decreasing air pollution levels, including ozone levels, across the nation.”

A Manufacturers Alliance study estimated that the EPA ozone regulations would eliminate 7.3 million jobs by 2020, something a coalition between the National Association of Manufacturers and 35 state-level manufacturing associations cites in a letter to Obama urging him to stop these regulations.

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