Saturday, March 15, 2008
Don't act all shocked to hear that President Bush administration intervened to weaken the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's new limits on smog-forming ozone. This is not the first time that the administration has tried to interfere with health assessments by government scientists, and it probably won't be the last. With less than a year left in office, we can be sure that the administration will try again and again to impose its short-sighted policies on the rest of us. The latest case involved the EPA's efforts to lower the seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland as required by the Clean Air Act. Even though the EPA proposal was less restrictive than what scientists recommended, Bush overruled the agency and ordered the limit increased, according to the Washington Post. Solicitor General Paul Clement warned administration officials earlier this week that the new rules would contradict past submissions by the agency to the U.S. Supreme Court on the harm caused by ozone, so officials are trying to rewrite agency regulations to eliminate the conflict, the Post said. "It is unprecedented and an act of political interference for the president personally to override a decision that the Clean Air Act leaves exclusively to EPA's expert scientific judgment," said John Walke of the Natural Resources Defense Council. Documents showing the extent of administration involvement with the rules change were released by EPA on Wednesday, the Post reported. Ozone, which forms when pollutants are exposed to sunlight, is linked to heart and respiratory illnesses. An EPA spokesman said the new standard complied with the Clean Air Act.