The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is delaying until late July tougher clean-air rules that are opposed by businesses led by the National Association of Manufacturers.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson plans to seek additional information from a group of advisers to ensure the decision is “grounded in the best science,” Brendan Gilfillan, an agency spokesman, said today in an e-mail.
The EPA proposed in January restrictions on ground-level ozone, a key ingredient of smog, that exceeded limits adopted by the Bush administration in 2008. The agency said the rule would help prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 58,000 cases of aggravated asthma and save as much as $100 billion in health costs. The Washington-based National Association of Manufacturers has said the rule, which was to become final this month, was too strict.
“The Environmental Protection Agency’s decision leaves thousands of Delawareans and millions of Americans unprotected from harmful ozone air pollution under an outdated, ineffective ozone standard,” said Senator Tom Carper, a Delaware Democrat, in a statement expressing disappointment with the delay.
Howard Feldman, director of regulatory and scientific affairs for the American Petroleum Institute in Washington, said the group welcomed the postponement. He urged the agency to delay other “costly and unworkable proposals,” such as an upcoming rule to limit greenhouse-gas emissions.
The EPA proposed tightening allowable ozone levels to 60 to 70 parts per billion, from 75 parts per billion set under President George W. Bush.
The American Lung Association in Washington, which pushed for the tougher clean-air standards, is “gravely disappointed,” Janice Nolen, assistant vice president for national policy and advocacy, said in a telephone interview.
“We are mystified,” she said. “We think that the science is very clear.”
The delay is at least the third since EPA proposed the rules.
Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who becomes chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next year, said in an Oct. 19 Washington Times column that the ozone standard would have a “crushing impact on jobs.”
Upton has pledged as committee chairman to block regulations that will cost jobs.
The EPA yesterday asked the U.S. District Court in Washington for additional time for issuing rules to cut emissions from boilers and solid-waste incinerators, a rule that industry groups and Republicans have criticized.
Jeff Holmstead, an EPA assistant administrator during the Bush administration and now a partner at Bracewell & Giuliani LLP in Washington, said agency leaders were adjusting to the economic effect the proposals may have and weren’t bowing to political pressure.
“It is good news,” Holmstead, who now lobbies for a several energy companies, said in an interview.