Al Gore Criticizes Obama on the Environment

Saying that the president “bowed to pressure from polluters,” Al Gore today joined other environmentalists who reacted strongly against the news  that President Obama has withdrawn smog standards submitted by his own EPA administrator.

In a statement released on the eve of a three-day holiday weekend last Friday, the president announced that while his administration has taken “some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act” to protect the environment, he had decided to ask EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the draft  Ozone National Ambient Standards.

In a statement released today Al Gore said that the President’s action will lead to “increased medical bills for seniors with lung disease, more children developing asthma and the continued degradation of our air quality.”

Lisa Heinzerling, the EPA’s former Associate Administrator of Office Policy under the Obama administration, has called the move “terribly bad news, and terribly bad policy.” Heinzerling, who has returned to teaching at Georgetown University, wrote a blog Friday saying the reason Obama used to withdraw the standards was unlawful.”  The Supreme Court, she wrote, “has unequivocally held that the Clean Air Act forbids the consideration of economic costs in setting the NAAQS [National Ambient Air Quality Standard].”

In his statement President Obama said he has “continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover.” He said work is underway that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. “Ultimately,” he said, “I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.”

Ken Cook, president of the Environmental Working Group, told ABC’s Jim Sciutto: “This decision is a major betrayal of the president’s base and the values he ran on. It was a cornerstone of the administration’s environmental agenda, which they just tossed off the side like ballast from a boat.”