In John Walke’s words on Democracy Now this morning, “President Obama made a brutal political calculation to sacrifice public health, clean air, and even law enforcement, in order to curry favor with Big Oil and reduce what the president called ‘burden’ to polluting industries. In doing so, he condemned the Environmental Protection Agency not only to accepting, but defending in court, a Bush administration smog standard that, as Joe said, is not only is unprotective, but something that the head of EPA called ‘legally and scientifically indefensible.’ These were the facts when EPA went to the White House in July to strengthen smog standards, and all signs were that they were going to do so, until what I’m calling the ‘Friday Smog Massacre’ this past Friday, when the President himself intervened, on nakedly political grounds, to override science, the law and smog protections for all Americans.”
Read or listen to the full debate between John Walke, the clean air director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and Dr. Roger McClellan, adjunct professor at the Duke University Medical Center and past chairman of the EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, on Democracy Now here: “Smog v. Jobs: Is Obama Admin Endangering U.S. Environment, Public Health with Retreat on Smog Standards?” (Democracy Now 9/7/11)
The New York Times Article, “Obama Administration Abandons Stricter Air-Quality Rules” By John M. Broder (NYT9/2/11), quotes Daniel J. Weiss, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, saying “Today’s announcement from the White House that they will retreat from implementing the much-needed — and long-overdue — ozone pollution standard is deeply disappointing and grants an item on Big Oil’s wish list at the expense of the health of children, seniors and the infirm.” Bill McKibben called the latest move “flabbergasting.”
For a great overview of the complex history of EPA ozone standards by John Walke, read “Obama Pulls a Bush on Clean Air” By John Walke (Grist 9/7/11).