National environmental groups, anticipating an administration announcement finalizing the ozone regulations, were so confident that they had drafted two media statements, both positive. Instead, advocacy groups issued series of separate rebukes Friday while business organizations lavished praise on the president.
Karen Harned, executive director of the National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Legal Center, wrote in an e-mail, “It’s encouraging to see the administration finally recognizes that this would have been the worst possible time to implement such a burdensome new rule.”
By contrast John Walke, clean-air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “It is outrageous that the president has intervened politically to block the EPA administrator from correcting an unprotective smog standard that she recognizes to be scientifically and legally indefensible.”
The proposed rule was particularly contentious because it could halt or delay the permitting of new industrial facilities if local pollution is too severe. Under a 2001 Supreme Court decision, the EPA is not allowed to take costs into account when setting the ozone standards, but the agency estimated the compliance costs for industry could range from $19 billion to $90 billion a year by 2020 depending on what level is set. It would yield health benefits worth $13 billion to $100 billion, the agency said.