Al Gore has posted a note entitled "confronting disappointment" in which he takes President Obama to task for "[bowing] to pressure from polluters" in ordering the Environmental Protection Agency not to seek a tightening of air-quality standards.
The EPA's proposal had been under fire from Republicans and business groups who cast it as job-killing regulatory overreach. The new rules, which would have strengthened air quality standards beyond where they stand in many states, could have forced reductions in oil and gas projects, the Wall Street Journal reports.
"President Obama ordered the EPA to abandon its pursuit of new curbs on emissions that worsens disease-causing smog in US cities," Gore wrote, after lauding the recent protest of the "tar sands pipeline" at the White House. "Earlier this year, the EPA's administrator, Lisa Jackson, wrote that the levels of pollution now permitted -- put in place by the Bush-Cheney administration-- are 'not legally defensible.' Those very same rules have now been embraced by the Obama White House."
Jackson had submitted the standards, called the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, in January of last year. In his statement announcing the decision to ask her to withdraw them - which was released on the Friday before the Labor Day holiday, a prime time to bury negative news - Mr. Obama said his administration has taken "some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act." Yet the decision infuriated environmentalists already frustrated by the lack of serious action to combat climate change during the Obama presidency.
In his note, Gore went on to suggest Mr. Obama was ignoring both economic and scientific concerns.
"Instead of relying on science, President Obama appears to have bowed to pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing new restrictions on their harmful pollution--even though economists have shown that the US economy would benefit from the job creating investments associated with implementing the new technology," he wrote.
Added the former vice president: "The result of the White House's action will be increased medical bills for seniors with lung disease, more children developing asthma, and the continued degradation of our air quality."