Americans may soon breathe a little easier with EPA's announced proposal to adopt stronger ozone standards than those set by the Bush administration. The move came after Earthjustice challenged the Bush ozone standards, which were far weaker than recommendations made by the former administration's own science advisors.
"This new EPA proposal gives hope to millions of people suffering from polluted air throughout the nation," said Earthjustice attorney David Baron. "The Bush administration's EPA ignored the unanimous advice of its own science advisors and denied Americans the protection they deserve."
Ozone, the main component of urban smog, can be especially dangerous to small children and the elderly, who are often warned to stay indoors on heavily polluted days. Ozone pollution can also take a heavy toll on trees and plants, stunting their growth and turning their leaves yellow. In addition, smog is linked to premature deaths, thousands of emergency room visits and tens of thousands of asthma attacks each year. Earthjustice has urged EPA to set the new standards at the most protective levels proposed.
EPA is slated to finalize action on new standards by August 31, 2010. Within the next year, the EPA plans to identify areas violating the new standards and require completion of cleanup plans by 2013. The agency will also revisit the Bush administration's decision to reject advice from the EPA's science advisors, which called for a special growing season standard to protect forests and crops from ozone damage.
"It's crucial that there be no delay in these schedules," said Baron.