The American Lung Association has issued a statement saying that as a result of today’s Obama administration decision, their previously delayed lawsuit against the EPA is now back on:
The American Lung Association filed suit against the EPA following the weak Bush standards but dropped it after the Obama administration said it was going to reconsider. The group issued a statement on Friday signaling that it will revive the suit now that the Obama administration has signaled that it is not going to improve the standard, which is a violation of the Clean Air Act, the group says.
Brad Plumer has an excellent summary of the history and implications of these EPA rules that have now been nixed by the White House including how the Obama administration got the American Lung Association and other groups to delay their lawsuits on the matter by promising that new rules were forthcoming. Of special note:
So now, today, the White House announced that it’s not going to have any new rules. On a call with reporters, White House officials argued that it doesn’t make sense to put out new rules in 2011 when there’s going to be another scheduled review of the ozone science in 2013.
But critics say that this reasoning is flawed. For one, notes Amy Royden-Bloom of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, if the EPA did issue a new ozone standard this year, then it could always just postpone its next scientific review until 2016, in line with the law. Second, notes Frank O’Donnell of Clean Air Watch, there’s no reason to think that a brand-new ozone standard will actually be issued by 2013. That’s just when the scientific review is due. Crafting new rules will take longer than that, given the inevitable delays and lawsuits. “I’d say three years, minimum,” says O’Donnell.
The White House justification for this is blatantly preposterous. Even if there was a new review in a few years, there’s absolutely zero chance that the new science would propose less strict air quality standards than are currently being proposed. And after fighting another three years or so to get new rules in place after that, it would be nearly time for yet another review: Would that be justification for holding off yet again?
Even more galling:
So what happens now? Right now, most states are still operating under the old 1997 standards. The EPA had earlier directed states not to follow the (somewhat stricter) 2008 Bush standards, because it was working on even tighter rules. But now those tighter rules aren’t happening. As Bill Becker of the National Association of Clean Ar Agencies told me, the EPA could now direct states to follow the Bush-era rules, but that seems unlikely given the White House’s preference to wait until the 2013 review. So states will likely keep operating under the old 1997 standards, which are weaker than even what the Bush administration had come up with. “We would have stricter protections right now if we had just followed the Bush-era rules back in 2008,” notes Becker.
The Obama administration has now put us on track for worse air pollution standards than were imposed by the Bush administration. There’s no amount of spin that won’t make that look like a craven political pander.