Obama to Enviros on Ozone: I'll Be Back

The Wall Street Journal just alerted:

President Barack Obama, citing the nation's struggling economy, asked the Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw an air quality rule that Republicans and business groups have said could cost tens of billions of dollars a year or more and kill thousands of jobs.

The surprise move came as the economic recovery continued to show signs of stalling, with the labor market failing to add new jobs in August for the first time since September 2010…

The rule, which would have tightened standards for smog-forming ozone, has been under attack for months from industry groups and lawmakers. Republicans have cited the rule as a prime example of the regulatory overreach that they say is hampering the economic recovery…

No kidding!

Here’s some background. In 2008, as part of the regular five-year review of the Clean Air Act, the Bush administration revised the ozone standard to 0.075 parts per million (ppm) down from 0.080 ppm that the Clinton EPA had set. Industry and communities thought this was too stringent—but not for the Obama EPA. It took the unprecedented step of ordering a review of the revised standards in 2009—one year after the new standards were passed and four years ahead of the normal review. And what did its reviewers recommend? Further tightening the Bush rule to between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm.

According to the EPA’s own admission, the new ozone standard would impose up to $90 billion in compliance costs. Andrew M. Grossman of Heritage Foundation notes that these might have been the most expensive standards yet in the nation’s history. That’s because the technology needed to comply with them simply doesn’t exist and would force up to 451 counties into non-attainment. He notes:

The economic consequences of non-attainment are severe. New and modified sources—factories, power plants, and the like—in non-attainment areas must employ costly emissions control technologies and offset emissions by taking other industrial capacity offline, directly costing jobs. At best, this drives up the cost of development and discourages businesses from expanding. At worst, it is a near prohibition on new industry. And where businesses are unable to relocate—such as is often the case with utilities—the result is higher costs for consumers.

Finally, the primary standards may be impossible to attain. The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) explained that “as levels for ozone standards move closer to ‘background’ levels, new issues may arise with implementation.” In many areas, background levels of ozone approach or exceed the proposed standard, placing those areas in permanent non-attainment, with all the economic consequences. This problem will only get worse: Mexican and Canadian emissions already have a large and growing impact on bordering states’ ozone levels, and a recent study concluded that rising Asian emissions “may hinder the USA’s compliance with its ozone air quality standard.

In other words, U.S. industry and communities might have been on the hook for cleaning up pollution that they had not even created. But that’s not what caused the White House to pull the plug. Apparently, according to the WSJ, the White House judged that it had more to lose from industry and Republican criticism than it had to gain from environmental groups and others who support the rule. But it is hinting to its enviro pals that it will revisit the issue in 2013 when the Clean Air Act is up for review again.

And Obama is safely back in office. (Wink, wink.)

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  • ||

    But it is hinting to its enviro pals that it will revisit the issue in 2013 when the Clean Air Act is up for review again.

    And Obama is safely back in office. (Wink, wink.)

    The thought of Obama turned lose on the country with no worries about re-election and the delusion that he has a mandate is truly chilling.

  • Tman||

    The only thing more depressing than the horrible choices the Repubs are putting up for president is the idea of President Not My Fault getting another four more years with a "mandate".

    Gary Johnson appears to be the only candidate I can honestly say would be the best solution, but he gets ignored more than Paul.

  • ||

    I am not fond of the Republican choices right now either, although I will defend Bachman. Chances are it is going to be Perry, who I have no faith in. But at this point Obama is so bad and another four years of him as President so awful, that you have to vote to get him out of there and hope you can limit the damage of the next guy.

    Even successful Presidents like Eisenhower and Reagan tend to fail in their second term. The last time we had a truly awful President get a second term was Nixon. And that ended in Watergate. God only knows what kind of disaster would befall the country during a second Obama administration.

  • Tman||

    I think it's a pretty sad indictment of our current political system that our choices over the last few presidential elections consisted of worse vs. worst.

    I get why folks like Epi don't even vote, but I'm not quite there yet. I just wish libertarians would open the tent bigger and end this stupid True Scotsman madness so a viable third party consisting of respected and experienced political figures like Johnson could get a better chance of spreading the field.

  • ||

    You write as if you do not take Stalin at his word: it doesn't matter who votes, its who counts the votes.

    Give Epi credit. He knows that the game is rigged.

  • Joe M||

    Wow, that is the first correct thing he's done with regard to the economy and regulation. I don't care that he's doing it for purely political reasons. And hopefully he gets tossed in '12 such that there never is a revisitation by his administration.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Thank God one man has the power to damage - or put off damaging - entire industries.

  • ||

    Aren't you thankful the black Jesus was merciful and took his foot off of your throat for a while?

  • Joe M||

    Just to wipe the blood off.

  • Chatroom Crackpot||

    The only thing worse would be for the bureaucracy to run wild with no one to check it. One man can sometimes be reasoned with, the hive mind that makes up agencies of the Federal government only follow the rules. Just like the cop who beats you to death is "following policy and procedures" .

  • ||

    I remember when they had Pistole up talking about the TSA groping of old ladies and kids. And he gets up there and explains how the agents were just following policy like that was a good thing.

    No you fucking sick bastard, it would be better if all of this were the result of a few rogue perverts. The worst thing imaginable is for it to be the result of deliberate policy.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I think you mean "Obama to enviros on ozone (and Canadian pipeline): 'I'll get back to you later.'"

  • PETE||

    Funny to read this article, and then the reactions on the liberal blogs.

    Liberal Blogs: Obama betrayed us!

    This post: Obama betrayed them, but he's still an asshole and only did it for political reasons.

    Knowning the history of the fight over this rule, the most likely explanation is that Obama never wanted the stricter rules to go into effect. He's been stonewalling since 2008 at least, and even lied to get the ALA to drop their suit against the Bush-era standards, promising they would implement tougher rules in 2010. When 2010 came around, they stalled stalled stalled. Now this.

    As usual, people trying to peg Obama as some uber-liberal tree hugger are going to be grasping at straws.

    Remember when he was supposed to ban all guns, reinstate the fairness doctrine, jack up income tax rates, stop deporting immigrants altogether, let people smoke marijuana in the streets, end the wars, shut down Gitmo, etc, etc., etc.? Me too.

  • Robert||

    Couldn't they mix something with the air to accelerate the breakdown of O3 to O2?

  • ||

    "In many areas, background levels of ozone approach or exceed the proposed standard, placing those areas in permanent non-attainmen"

    Well its obvious what needs to be done. Ozone producing businesses in these areas must relocate to low-ozone areas and we must tax the shit out of these counties for having the bad planning to live in an area with levels above what the EPA says is normal.

    Juobs created *and* more money for the treasury - win/win!

  • MJ||

    "According to the EPA’s own admission, the new ozone standard would impose up to $90 billion in compliance costs. Andrew M. Grossman of Heritage Foundation notes that these might have been the most expensive standards yet in the nation’s history. That’s because the technology needed to comply with them simply doesn’t exist and would force up to 451 counties into non-attainment."

    Impose a standard there is not tecnolgical method of achieving compliance, yet people like Chapman accuse the Right of magical thinking on matters science.

  • J||

    "Apparently, according to the WSJ, the White House judged that it had more to lose from industry and Republican criticism than it had to gain from environmental groups and others who support the rule. "

    Notice how the effect on the environment or on the economy is not cited as a condideration. Obama doesn't even try to pretend he cares about anything other than his re-election at this point.

  • Wbee||

    I like how the article conveniently leaves out that waivers will be given out like Obamacare. The businesses will also get tax assistance to reach the goals. Typical fear mongering article. Government has it all figured out.

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