Inhofe asks EPA to delay pollution rule

Sen. James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Defense: First Gitmo transfer under Trump could happen 'soon' | White House says Trump has confidence in VA chief | Russia concedes 'dozens' of civilians injured in Syria clash Pentagon budget euphoria could be short-lived House passes deal to end shutdown MORE (R-Okla.) wants the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to delay a final decision on an air pollution rule that Republicans say will hurt industries ranging from agriculture to mining.

Inhofe said EPA should postpone finalizing the rule, which deals with levels of soot released into the air, for at least one year after wrapping up a current investigation of the EPA’s management of advisory committees and scientific data.

“Given the time needed for EPA to consider the thousands of comments you anticipate and given the importance of the rulemaking issues at stake, the Agency has a clear responsibility to reject the proposed settlement schedule,” Inhofe wrote in letter Wednesday to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson. 

EPA submitted a request for comments on the rule on June 26. It is slated to make a final decision on the rule by Dec. 14.

President Obama, whom Republicans have chided for EPA actions, asked the EPA for softer soot standards, The Washington Post reported earlier this month. That led to charges that the White House was interfering with scientific data to get a more politically acceptable threshold.

The proposed rule would cut the annual exposure standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter down to between 12 and 13. EPA originally had its sight set on 12 micrograms per cubic meter, according to the Post.

EPA says the rule will improve public health by subduing tiny particles that have been linked to asthma, bronchitis and irregular heartbeat.

Republicans and several industry groups claim complying with the rule will be too difficult and could stunt permitting of new factories. The GOP also sees it as another activist EPA measure, which has sought more aggressive pollution regulations in recent months.