Tulsa World Editorial: We appreciate Inhofe sounding the alarm on the pending standards, and urge him to fight for rational, balanced clean air standards
January 11, 2010
Contact: Matt Dempsey email@example.com
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Editorial: Smog cops
by: World's Editorial Writers
If Sen. Jim Inhofe is right and an Obama administration proposal to toughen smog standards could put more than a dozen Oklahoma counties on the federal government's "dirty air" list, then it's an alarming development.
Federal air quality laws were designed to protect human health from pollution, and they are a good thing. But it's puzzling to imagine how anyone could go from that to the conclusion that Oklahoma's essentially rural Sequoyah and Caddo counties have air pollution problems.
Yet, Inhofe says the ozone standards about to come out of the Environmental Protection Agency would do just that: classifying 15 Oklahoma counties as violating new tougher air standards. That would mean federal mandates that would slow economic growth and increase the cost of living in those areas.
It is worth noting that it's all a bit hypothetical at this point. The EPA's proposal hasn't even been formally published yet, so the details aren't all available for vetting.
Gov. Brad Henry's spokesman says once the proposal is actually released, its details need to be studied and the possible impact analyzed.
Here are some principles we propose for judging the standards:
1. Clean air is important and the federal government has a legitimate role in enforcing standards.
2. Those standards should seek to keep air healthy, but not at the cost of choking off economic development.
3. Air quality standards should not penalize communities for things that are beyond local control, like weather patterns, geography and pollution that flows across borders and boundaries.
4. A sense of balance should dominate. Communities with dangerous air deserve protection. Communities with essentially clean air deserve freedom from bureaucratic meddling.
We appreciate Inhofe sounding the alarm on the pending standards, and urge him to fight for rational, balanced clean air standards that will protect the breathing public without choking the nation's industrial capacity.