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The environmental movement went nuts after that decision was announced, accusing Bush of taking the side of polluters and endangering the health of each and every American. Mind you, Bush had lowered the standard and thus further cleaned up the air – cleaner than his predecessor – but he was bad, because he “ignored scientific advice.”
This, of course, was a reference to CASAC, a group of seven people, most of whom are from the academic world. But, contrary to the way the environmental groups framed the issue (and the way the technically-challenged mainstream media blindly repeated that message), CASAC is not supposed to make environmental policy, nor has it ever had that function. It is there to provide what advice it can, given the narrow discipline and focus of its members.
Essentially, CASAC said that the 60 parts per billion is less than 75 parts per billion and – in the absence of any other evidence – would make for a more desirable standard. And it surely would, but why stop at 60? Why not 50, or 25, or even zero? The answer of course is that there is some point where the tiny amount of risk reduction associated with another small drop in air pollution doesn’t even come close to balancing out against the economic and societal costs. George W. Bush understood that when he had to address the ozone standard, and it appears that Barack Obama now gets it – at least in this instance.
Yet, having come to the same conclusion as Bush, don’t expect that Obama will get nearly as much grief from the eco-left. Oh, they grumbled of course, but at the end of the day they know that they have nowhere else to go. And besides, Obama and his EPA administrator, Lisa Jackson, have already increased the scope and power of the EPA immeasurably, ensured that the coal industry will die a long, slow death and dramatically curtailed offshore drilling. They can live with this one setback.
For the rest of us, it’s great that Obama finally found an environmental initiative so obviously repugnant that even he was forced to put a stop to it. The larger question remains however: can the nation live with all of the eco-left initiatives that this administration has already approved?
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