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Tulsa World: Inhofe: EPA delay on ozone standard decision good news
December 9, 2010

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Inhofe: EPA delay on ozone standard decision 'good news'

By Jim Myers

Thursday, December 09, 2010

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WASHINGTON - A federal agency on Wednesday once again delayed its long-awaited announcement on beefing up ozone standards, a change that could have put Tulsa County and several others in Oklahoma on the dirty-air list.

"This is good news,'' said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., a major player on such issues in Congress.

Inhofe said the revision proposed earlier by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency would have had been devastating to the economy of Oklahoma.

Several counties in the state could have "closed down,'' he said.

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 under stricter standards.

Inhofe said areas found out of compliance on ozone, a key component of smog, end up with a "scarlet letter'' that makes it difficult for them to keep existing industries and to recruit new ones.

Under the schedule announced Wednesday, EPA now is expected to make the decision on ozone standards by the end of July.

"To ensure EPA's decision is grounded in the best science, EPA will review the input CASAC (Clean Air Science Advisory Committee) provides before the new standard is selected,'' EPA spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said.

Gilfillan said EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also will ask the advisory committee for further interpretation of studies it used previously.

EPA, he said, is moving forward with a number of national rules that will significantly reduce pollution and improve public health for all Americans.

"These include rules designed to reduce harmful emissions from cars, power plants and other industrial facilities that contribute to ozone formation,'' Gilfillan said.

"Taking additional time to complete the scientific review of the ozone standard will not delay the public health benefits of these rules.''

According to EPA, the new standards are needed to help prevent up to 12,000 premature deaths, 58,000 cases of aggravated asthma and save up to $100 billion in health costs.

In August, EPA announced what it termed a "slight delay'' in announcing the ozone decision.

That moved the deadline to October, but nothing was announced at that time.

"It is all political,'' Inhofe said of the latest delay.

"Nov. 2 (election day) was a wake-up call to a lot of these people who thought they could just regulate people out of business.''

He predicted next year those concerned about the impact of the proposed standards will be in an even stronger position.

"This is a victory right now. You have to take these one at a time,'' said Inhofe, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., chairman of the Senate Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Subcommittee, expressed disappointment over EPA's delay.

Carper said that delay leaves millions of Americans unprotected from harmful ozone air pollution under an "outdated, ineffective ozone standard.''

"This decision also keeps states in limbo about what standards they need to meet, forcing them to continue to postpone significant decisions today to clean our air tomorrow,'' he said.


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