Congressional Democrats were stunned on Friday afternoon by Barack Obama’s decision to abandon clean air protections for Americans against smog that is estimated to kill between 4,000 and 12,000 people every year. Obama claimed to have economic reasons for the abandonment of ozone regulations, but his argument defied logic, given that studies had shown that the regulations would have brought more economic benefits than costs.
The stark irrationality of Obama’s embrace of the American Petroleum Institute’s pro-smog policies left many congressional Democrats visibly confused. They struggled to find some way to tell a positive tale about Obama’s anti-environmental action, but came up short.
Senator Barbara Boxer tried to argue that, although Barack Obama had just undermined the Clean Air Act by allowing the economics of special interests in the oil industry to overrule the scientific evidence of the danger of smog, she was “heartened” by Obama’s commitment to the Clean Air Act. Representative Ed Markey tried to assert that Obama’s abandonment of clean air standards somehow put pressure on Obama on other pollution issues.
In contrast to these dazed Democrats, Senator Tom Carper retained a clear head, and quickly identified the problem and what needs to be done to address it. Carper said, “For the past two years, we have waited for this Administration to reconsider the legally indefensible 2008 ozone public health standard. I am disappointed by today’s announcement that the Administration has decided to walk away from this endeavor. I am very concerned about the ramifications this action may have on the health of thousands of Delawareans and millions of Americans that are vulnerable to the harmful effects of ozone air pollution.”
Carper didn’t stop with a statement of opposition to Obama’s attack on public health and clean air, however. The Senator announced that he will use his authority to push to hold Obama Administration officials accountable for the “unacceptable” decision.
“This decision leaves me with more questions than answers. To that end, I intend to hold a hearing in the Clean Air Subcommittee with White House officials to explain these actions and the possible ramifications.”
I’m looking forward to that hearing.