Former Vice President Al Gore on Wednesday said President Obama, instead of “relying on science … appears to have bowed to pressure from polluters who did not want to bear the cost of implementing” the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards that the Environmental Protection Agency was pushing.
Gore made his public rebuke in a blog post called “Confronting Disappointment,” reflecting how on Friday “President Obama ordered the EPA to abandon its pursuit of new curbs on emissions that worsen disease-causing smog in U.S. cities” because of economic concerns.
Gore noted that EPA administrator Lisa Jackson had previously written that the pollutant levels put in place by President Bush were “not legally defensible.”
“Those very same rules have now been embraced by the Obama White House,” Gore wrote, saying that 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.”
President Obama last Friday defended his action, saying that his administration “has taken some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act four decades ago to protect our environment and the health of our families from air pollution,” including “reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from outdated power plants” and “doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks. …”
At the same time,” President Obama wrote, “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. ”
President Obama’s fellow Nobel Laureate is not the only disappointed Democrat.
President Obama’s own former EPA associate administrator of office of Policy, Lisa Heinzerling, blogged that the “reason the president gave for asking EPA to withdraw its standard is an unlawful reason,” since “the Supreme Court has unequivocally held that the Clean Air Act forbids the consideration of economic costs in setting” air quality standards.
Heinzerling also wrote that: “Weirdly, even though President Obama stated that economic concerns were his reason for asking EPA to withdraw the ozone standard, shortly before this announcement was made, a White House blog post extolled the economic virtues of the Clean Air Act. This is a statute that has returned over 30 times the amount in benefits that it has imposed in costs. It is one of the most successful pieces of public health legislation ever. And the White House seems to know it. Stranger still, then, that President Obama used economics as the cited reason for asking EPA to take back the standard.”