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EPA proposes new smog standards; environmentalists wheeze their disapproval

Monday, June 25, 2007

Update: Okay, I may have been a little hard on the EPA yesterday. At least they're making an effort. Also, check out Angry Toxicologist's post, The Asthmatic Elephant in the Ozone Room.

Having trouble breathing?

EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson wants to fix that -- as long as industry groups don't mind too much.

In their first new recommendation on ground-level ozone since 1997, the Agency is calling for an 11 to 17 percent reduction on current smog standards. Johnson says that "the current standard is insufficient to protect public health," a statement which sounds like it could only lead to vigorous improvements.

And the EPA recommendation is an improvement -- a reduction of ground ozone levels from .08 parts per million to between .070 and .075 parts per million. But while it solicits public comment on the recommendation, the EPA will also consider other options -- including leaving the standards right where they are. While the Agency's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee has implied that even the proposed reduction might be too lax (they recommend that standards set ozone levels no higher than .070 parts per million), the EPA has left the door open for business and industry groups who consider the reduction costly and unnecessary.

Gosh. I'm breathing better already, aren't you?

I should note that the EPA is also accepting comment on alternative plans that would set the standards as low as .06 parts per million -- so take heart, asthmatics. A 90-day public comment period will follow after the proposal is published in the Federal Register, and the EPA will settle on a number in March of 2008.

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