President Obama, under mounting pressure from business groups and Republicans in Congress, has withdrawn a plan to strengthen emissions rules for smog-causing chemicals. The abandoned Environmental Protection Agency standard would have dramatically reduced emissions of ground-level ozone.
For American eco advocates, the announcement is salt in a wound opened by a series of White House decisions on energy and the environment. In the past month, the Obama administration has pre-approved drilling in the Arctic, cleared the way for the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Alberta to Texas, and opened 20 million more acres of the Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling.
"The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe. This is a huge win for corporate polluters and a huge loss for public health," said Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters.
In a statement, the president reiterated his commitment to the environment, but added: “At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.”
With the economy sputtering, the President is under intense pressure to create jobs and reduce business burdens. But many of us are left wondering whether this is the same man we elected three short years ago.
Photo: A layer of smog blankets the Los Angeles skyline. (Danita Delimont / Getty Images)