The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release


President Obama Undercuts Science with Smog Standard Delay

Statement by Francesca Grifo, Scientific Integrity Program Director


President Obama today asked the Environmental Protection Agency to ignore its obligation under the Clean Air Act to update ground-level ozone pollution standards for the United States based on the best available science. Because of President Obama's decision, the ground-level ozone standards will remain outside the scientifically acceptable range of between 60 and 70 parts per billion recommended by an independent scientific advisory committee and EPA scientists in 2007.

Below is a statement by Francesca Grifo, senior scientist and director of the Union of Concerned Scientists' Scientific Integrity Program:

"This delay is shocking. President Obama's decision will leave us with a rule that flouts the Clean Air Act and ignores science. They've allowed politics to trump science at the expense of the American people's health. The law requires EPA to update a new standard based solely on the science. Scientific recommendations were finalized five years ago. But when industry objected, the administration accepted the industry's economic scare tactics at face value.

"This is a dangerous precedent for every science-based public health, safety and environmental protection we enjoy.

"The blame here rests squarely on the White House. The courts rejected the Bush-era standard as arbitrary and capricious, and told the EPA in 2009 to reconsider it. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has consistently reaffirmed that the EPA can only consider public health science when setting the standard. Cost considerations are appropriate when it's time to implement the standard. But the White House decided to go back on its promise, ignore the science and cave to industry pressure.

"Good science is always being refined, but waiting for the next scientific assessment on public health risks from EPA is no excuse for delaying action now. Every delay makes more people sick."

The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading science-based nonprofit working for a healthy environment and a safer world. UCS combines independent scientific research and citizen action to develop innovative, practical solutions and to secure responsible changes in government policy, corporate practices, and consumer choices.