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Tulsa World: EPA to Delay Revised Ozone Standards
August 25, 2010

Posted by Matt Dempsey

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Tulsa World  

EPA to delay revised ozone standards

By JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau


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WASHINGTON -- A federal agency put off its much-anticipated announcement on revising ozone standards, a move designed to protect public health but one that could put Tulsa County and several others on the dirty air list.

For almost a year, that announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been expected by the end of this month.

EPA's new timetable pushes it back by about two months.

"There will be a slight delay in finalizing our decision on any new ozone standards,'' the agency stated in an e-mail when asked about news reports on the issue. "We expect to finalize the standards towards the end of October 2010.''

The press official who sent the e-mail did not respond directly when asked why the agency had decided to delay the announcement.

"We are continuing to carefully consider the proposed options and the information we received during the public comment period on the January 2010 proposal,'' the statement read.

EPA, it stated, remains committed to protecting the public's health from the dangers of ground-level ozone, a key component of smog.

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a major player on environmental issues as the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said he was not surprised by the delay.

"The Obama EPA's proposed ozone standards could throw hundreds of counties into dreaded non-attainment status, a mark that carries severe penalties and regulations that restrict growth and job creation in local communities,' Inhofe said.

"That's certainly the case for a number of areas in Oklahoma.''

In addition to Tulsa County, the senator previously had warned that Canadian, Cherokee, Comanche, Creek, Kay, Mayes, Oklahoma and Ottawa counties also could be out of compliance with any new beefed-up standards and face severe restrictions on economic development.

Inhofe suggested EPA is potentially delaying the decision until after the election in November.

"But it won't conceal a brutally clear fact,'' he said. "The Obama EPA, through rule after rule, is regulating the American economy to a standstill, creating uncertainty about who can build what and where, and in effect is setting industrial policy for the nation.''

If the nation is to rise out of recession and return to growth and prosperity, he said, EPA cannot continue down its current path.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced in 2009 that her agency would reconsider ozone standards put in place the previous year by the Bush administration.

Jackson described that move as one of the most important protection measures her agency could take to safeguard the public's health, pointing to the link between smog and asthma and other respiratory illnesses.

The American Lung Association, which took legal action in 2008 claiming the Bush administration's standards on ozone failed to do enough to protect the public health, expressed disappointment over EPA's decision to delay its announcement.

"Delays in setting an ozone standard have serious and life-threatening ramifications,'' said Charles Connor, the association's president.

"Ozone air pollution causes premature death, asthma attacks, difficulty breathing and can shape the development of a child's lungs.''


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