Photo via Associated Press
It's been a bad couple weeks for the Bush EPA's legacy. Key decisions the agency made and the standards it set have already been reconsidered, reversed, and righted. And now, the most blunt (and legally binding) smackdown of Bush's EPA just took place: a federal appeals court found yesterday that the Bush administration's standards on pollutants like soot are "contrary to law and unsupported by adequately reasoned decision making." Zing. According to the New York Times, the court ordered the EPA to upgrade its standards on fine particulates—pollutants that can cause lung cancer, heart disease, and asthma.
The worst part is, this bureaucratic process wouldn't be necessary at all if Bush's EPA hadn't ignored the advice of its own scientists in the first place—a habit the administration was all too fond of indulging. The ruling also proves that the Bush EPA was literally endangering human welfare by upholding such weak standards for fine particulate pollutants.
After all, "by some estimates, tens of thousands of Americans die each year from exposure to airborne particulates." Fine particulates come from things like diesel engines, power plants, and urban traffic. They can make their way into your lungs, and occasionally even into your bloodstream. The Bush EPA head, Stephen Johnson, had said that he found "insufficient evidence" to link particulates with negative health effects. Bad call, Johnson.
From the NY Times:
When the agency embraced the standards in 2006, its own scientific staff rejected them as too lax. In Tuesday's ruling, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the agency "did not adequately explain" why the standards were adequate.
Obama's EPA has responded and said that it is currently reviewing the standards, and that "standards for particulate matter are extremely important."
Let's hope the standards get amended and we can move on from the legacy of yet another misguided decision from an administration that put far too little faith in science.