The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Jeffrey Seyler

President Obama's Failure to Update Ozone Standard Outrageous

President Obama announced today that he would not update the 2008 ozone standard


"For two years the Administration dragged its feet by delaying its decision, unnecessarily putting lives at risk. Its final decision not to enact a more protective ozone health standard is jeopardizing the health of millions of Americans, which is inexcusable," said Jeffrey Seyler, President and CEO of the American Lung Association of New England. "The American Lung Association now intends to revive its participation in litigation with the Administration, which was suspended following numerous assurances that the Administration was going to complete this reconsideration and obey the law. We had gone to court because the Bush Administration failed to follow the law and set a protective health standard."

"The ozone standard set in 1997 at 84 ppb is currently being implemented. The American Lung Association demands at minimum, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and states must move forward to implement the 75 ppb standard as it will provide more protection than the 14-year-old standard," said Seyler.

The EPA's nearly two-year-long "reconsideration" of the ozone standard determined that the 2008 standard, set at 75 ppb by the Bush Administration, failed to protect public health, failed to follow the scientific community's recommendations, and was legally indefensible. Furthermore, in reconsidering the 2008 decision, EPA had to limit its review to reconsider the science about ozone as it stood in 2006. Evidence accumulating since 2006 shows that ozone is harmful at levels well below the current standard.

By choosing to ignore the recommendations of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), the President is failing to follow the nation's landmark air pollution law, the Clean Air Act, and therefore failing to protect public health, particularly those most at risk including children, older people, and people who suffer from chronic lung diseases. For these people, breathing smog-polluted air can lead to coughing and wheezing, restricted airways, hospitalization and even death. Even healthy young adults and people who exercise or work outdoors can suffer from high levels of ozone pollution.

"A new smog standard would have saved lives and resulted in fewer people getting sick," said Seyler. "The Administration should have set a standard at 60 ppb as advised by the American Lung Association and other medical societies and health groups. Its failure to do so will severely jeopardize public health."

An American Lung Association bipartisan poll of likely 2012 voters taken in June 2011 found that an overwhelming majority support the EPA's efforts to strengthen rules on ozone-causing pollution. The poll found that 75 percent of voters support stricter limits on ozone and that 72 percent oppose efforts by Congress to stop EPA from updating ozone standards. The poll also found that 65 percent of the voters do not agree with the industry's claim that the stricter smog standard will impact jobs. In fact, 54 percent rightly believe that a new standard will create jobs through innovation.

"The benefits to our economic and physical health of a stricter smog standard are without question," continued Seyler. "While polluters continue to argue against health standards by repeating archaic, long-disproved claims about economic harm, the American people know better. The Obama Administration undoubtedly should not have delayed and failed to implement a new standard to help communities achieve clean air."