The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Bill Snape, (202) 536-9351

Obama Hits New Low by Abandoning Smog-reduction Plan


After intense lobbying from polluting industries, President Barack Obama today abandoned badly needed plans to reduce smog and improve public health around the country. In a statement this morning, the president told the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw its draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards, which had been in the works for years.

"This is a new low for President Obama," said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which works to curb air pollution and global warming. "He sold out public health and environmental protection to appease polluters. Mr. Obama's shortsighted political decision will have long-term health consequences for millions of Americans."

The EPA was proposing to tighten ozone standards set during the Bush era in 2008. The Bush standards had ignored the advice of EPA's own scientists and were set at a level too high to protect public health. The Obama administration announced its intent to bring the standards more closely in line with science in early 2010, specifically recognizing that children were especially at risk from the higher standard. Today's decision reaffirms the Bush administration's standard and delays action to protect children and others from the serious health risks of ozone pollution until at least 2013.

The National Association of Clean Air Agencies says that EPA's own data shows that today's delay will result in more than 8,500 premature deaths, more than 45,000 cases of aggravated asthma, at least 1.5 million missed work or school days, and more than 5 million cases where citizens will need to restrict their activities.

"Americans deserve clean air and a White House that takes public health seriously," Suckling said. "Instead, President Obama today caved to the demands of big polluters and walked away from his obligation to protect the people."

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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