White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley heard opposing views today from business and health groups over an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to tighten ozone standards.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, Sierra Club and several environmental and health groups urged Daley and the Obama administration to issue an overdue smog standard immediately, said Paul Billings, vice president of the Washington-based American Lung Association, which participated in the meeting.
“It’s an incremental change, but it has real benefits,” Billings said in an interview. White House officials didn’t say what actions they may take on the rules, which were scheduled for release last month, or when they would be issued, he said.
The heads of Washington-based industry groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers and Business Roundtable, sought in a separate meeting to stop the rules.
“A new ozone standard at this point in time would limit business expansion in nearly every populated region of the United States and impair the ability of U.S. companies to create new jobs,” more than 170 businesses and groups, including Chevron Corp. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, wrote to President Barack Obama in an Aug. 11 letter.
The White House Office of Management and Budget is leading an interagency examination of the proposed rule, part of a required review of the economic costs and benefits of new regulations. OMB led the meetings today, said Meg Reilly, an agency spokeswoman.
The EPA’s proposed regulations for ground-level ozone, a main ingredient of smog, would tighten those issued under President George W. Bush in 2008.
Critics such as Dow Chemical Co. (DOW), the largest U.S. chemical maker, say the EPA is rushing the process and that the next five-year review mandated by the Clean Air Act is in 2013. The opponents say the changes, estimated by the EPA to cost as much as $90 billion, should be delayed.
The EPA, which has said stricter rules are needed to safeguard the public and save as much as $100 billion in health costs, said it won’t let the rules undermine the economy.
“In implementing this new standard, EPA will use the long- standing flexibility in the Clean Air Act to consider costs, jobs and the economy,” Brendan Gilfillan, a spokesman for the agency, said in an e-mail on Aug. 12.
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