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Congressional Republicans have been complaining relentlessly (and rather baselessly) that tightening smog standards, as Obama's EPA has sought to do, would cripple the economy. Studies have indicated that those improved anti-air pollution standards would have saved tens of thousands of lives every year, and prevented innumerable cases of lung disease, asthma, and other respiratory illnesses.
However, Obama has caved to the GOP's demands: he announced today that he was abandoning his effort to secure cleaner and healthier air for the American public. Here's the New York Times:
The Obama administration is abandoning its plan to immediately tighten air-quality rules nationwide to reduce emissions of smog-causing chemicals after an intense lobbying campaign by industry ...This unfortunate development further underscores Obama's inability to hold his ground from the attacks of his political opponents -- who, in this case, were primarily seeking to prevent very profitable industries from having to pay for pollution upgrades to their factories and power plants. He has, in essence, caved to the demands of corporations at the expense of the general health of the public.
The White House announcement that it was overruling the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to adopt a stricter standard for ground-level ozone came just hours after another dismal jobs reports and in the midst of an intensifying political debate over the impact of federal regulations on job creation
That may seem a hyperbolic way of putting it, but when you distill this debate down to its essence, those are the primary concerns. Many reports showed that the work required to produce and install new pollution-scrubbing equipment would have created jobs, not shed them. This is a true defeat for the administration -- and more importantly, it's a blow to the welfare of the American public.