House votes to roll back Obama-era ozone standards

House votes to roll back Obama-era ozone standards
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Lawmakers voted Tuesday to delay an Obama administration rule on ozone pollution and limit future regulations that crackdown on the pollutant. 
 
The House voted 229-119 to pass a bill from Rep. Pete Olson (R-Texas) slowing down the regulatory timeline for surface-level ozone pollution. 
 
The bill would delay implementation of the Obama administration’s 2015 rule lowering the acceptable level of ozone and would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reconsider the ozone rule every 10 years, rather than on the current timetable of every five years. 
 
Republicans, businesses and manufacturing groups backed the bill, saying it would help localities come into compliance with ozone regulations without facing consequences from the federal government or having a string of quickly-issued pollution rules.
 
“We’ve learned that timelines and procedures established almost 30 years ago can be counterproductive today, resulting in unnecessary costs, regulatory delay and economic uncertainty,” Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) said.
 
“There is more work to be done to modernize environmental laws, but ensuring orderly implementation of air quality standards is an important place to start and essential for our environment and our economy.”
 
Public health groups support the ozone standards and, in fact, pushed Obama administration regulators to limit acceptable levels of the pollutant even more than it did in 2015. 
 
Most Democrats opposed the bill on public health grounds.
 
“At a time when Republicans in Congress have been almost singularly focused on ramming through legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act and rip healthcare away from tens of millions of Americans, this bill adds insult to injury,” said Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.)
 
“Plain and simple, the bill before us today would undermine the Clean Air Act as a safeguard of our public health law.” 
 
The House also passed three bipartisan energy bills earlier Tuesday
 
One bill would provide funding to enhance physical and cybersecurity measures at energy installations; another would give developers more time to begin construction on a hydropower facility in Washington; and a third would speed up the permit approval process for certain types of hydropower facilities. 
 
The first two bills passed on unanimous voice votes, and the third passed on a vote of 420-2.