White House faces Senate, industry pressure on smog rule

“The Clean Air Act is clear that this ozone standard must be set to protect public health.  We urge the Administration to stand strong against efforts to weaken the Clean Air Act, to follow the health science, and to protect public health, by strengthening the ozone standard to a level recommended by the CASAC,” it states.

The letter comes as the White House Office of Management and Budget is weighing EPA’s proposal to toughen a Bush-era standard of 75 parts per billion.

Major business groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Business Roundtable and the American Petroleum Institute (API) have appealed to EPA and the White House directly to back off and wait until the next scheduled review of the ozone standard in 2013.

They allege the new rules will impose major new costs and barriers to development in regions that will be out of attainment with the tougher standards.

Business groups stepped up their efforts Thursday with a letter to Obama from scores of national and state-based groups and businesses, such as state-based chambers of commerce, API, the American Farm Bureau, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers and others.

The letter states:

A new ozone standard at this point in time would limit business expansion in nearly every populated region of the United States and impair the ability of U.S. companies to create new jobs. We urge you to delay this discretionary, out-of-cycle ozone standard and wait until 2013 before determining whether a new standard is needed. Now is not the time to saddle our economy with the extraordinary costs associated with EPA’s proposed national ozone standard.

EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson has argued that the Bush-era standard set in 2008 is "not legally defensible" and that tougher rules will result in major public health benefits.