President Barack Obama sided with the business community over the EPA when he formally asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw proposed standards that would have set stricter limits on emissions of ground level ozone, the primary constituent of smog.
“I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover,” the president said in a statement. “With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that [EPA] Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.”
President Obama made this announcement three weeks after a coalition of 176 businesses and trade groups led by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce sent a letter to him asking that he press the EPA to abandon the proposal.
The groups cited private sector studies predicting the standards could result in as many as 7.3 million lost jobs and up to $1 trillion in compliance costs by 2020.
“A new ozone standard at this point in time would limit business expansion in nearly every populated region of the United States and impair the ability of U.S. companies to create new jobs,” the letter stated.
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA is required to reevaluate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone every five years. This was last done in 2008 under the Bush Administration and the EPA isn’t required to revisit the issue until 2013.
Instead of waiting, the EPA proposed ground level ozone revisions in January 2010, stating at the time that the “ozone standards set in 2008 were not as protective as recommended by EPA’s panel of science advisers.”
The revised standards would lower the current level of emissions from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to a range between 70 ppb and 60 ppb.
“Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013,” Obama said. “Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.”
Many of the GOP presidential candidates have expressed reservations about the EPA and some have gone so far as to suggest eliminating the agency.