President Obama’s decision to undercut EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson by cancelling a long-overdue update to smog standards was a mistake on both the politics and the policy. For smart takes on the politics of this, you can read Steve Benen and Paul Krugman. For smart takes on the policy implications, read Brad Plumer, Kate Sheppard and David Dayen.
In assessing the implications of policy decisions, it is useful to consider how various individuals and organizations respond. To that end, I’ve compiled some key reactions to President Obama’s announcement.
So far I’ve found 7 Republican politicians and 7 industry groups that are supportive of the President’s decision, and 2 Democratic politicians and 12 public interest groups that are critical of the decision. If you know of other statements that should be included here, please let me know.
Notably, even as the Republicans and industry groups praised the decision, many of them managed to include an attack on the President in their statement as well.
|Person or Organization||Supportive Statement||Critical Statement|
|Senator Mitch McConnell||X|
|House Speaker John Boehner (spokesman)||X|
|Reps. Fred Upton and Ed Whitfield||X|
|House Majority Leader Eric Cantor||X|
|Chamber of Commerce||X|
|American Petroleum Institute||X|
|American Enterprise Institute:||X|
|Senator Jim Inhofe||X|
|Senator Pat Toomey||X|
|Senator John McCain||X|
|Electric Reliability Coordinating Council:||X|
|National Petrochemical & Refiners Association||X|
|Electric Power Generation Association||X|
|American Lung Association||X|
|Friends of the Earth||X|
|Natural Resources Defense Council||X|
|Senator Barbara Boxer||X|
|Rep. Ed Markey||X|
|League of Conservation Voters||X|
|Center for American Progress||X|
|Center for Biological Diversity||X|
|American Thoracic Society||X|
|Health Care Without Harm||X|
|The Trust for America’s Health||X|
Here are the statements that are supportive of the President’s decision:
“The President took a step today that highlights the devastating impact on jobs that has been created by this administration’s regulatory overreach. There are hundreds of regulations that even the administration acknowledges will cost America’s job creators billions of dollars. This action alone will prevent more job losses than any speech the President has given, and I hope he will listen to the bipartisan calls from across the country to address his administration’s negative impact on job creation. There are several bipartisan bills pending before Congress now to fix the jobs and economic problems his administration has created, and I hope they will be the centerpiece of his proposal next week.”
Speaker John Boehner (spokesman):
“We’re glad that the White House responded to the speaker’s letter and recognized the job-killing impact of this particular regulation,” said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. “But it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stopping Washington Democrats’ agenda of tax hikes, more government ‘stimulus’ spending, and increased regulations, which are all making it harder to create more American jobs.”
“This sudden admission by President Obama that ill-considered regulations do, in fact, have a neg ative impact upon our economy is a welcome breakthrough.”
“A step in the right direction.”
“This an enormous victory for America’s job creators, the right decision by the President, and one that will help reduce the uncertainty facing businesses. It’s also a big first step in what needs to be a broader regulatory reform effort.”
“The signal today was that the message is being heard. These are the kinds of signals that the economy and business needs to begin pulling money off the sidelines and start investing.”
“Environmental concerns are legitimate, but sometimes the cost these policies impose is very significant. To the extent he’s moving to balancing them more carefully, that should be applauded.”
“We won our battle on the ozone. President Obama has finally pulled the plug on what would have been the most expensive EPA regulation in history. Stopping this job-killing ozone standard has been one of my top priorities.”
“The White House’s decision to withdraw the EPA’s proposed ozone standards has taken a huge regulatory burden off the table for small businesses and job creators seeking to expand and hire new workers”
“Of course, the president had little choice but to halt this rule, which would have destroyed nearly 7 million jobs and stifled economic growth at a time when our nation is working to recover from a jobless recession.”
President drops EPA rule — many of us strongly agree for the sake of the economy.
“Today President Obama, in a landmark announcement, recognized that EPA was considering an ozone rule that was inappropriate given already-scheduled reviews due to take place under the Clean Air Act. Further, he recognized that the precarious condition of the U.S. economy made expensive new Clean Air rules very dangerous to the well-being of the American people. While this clear statement that costly regulations are not job creation programs is a welcome agreement with what most economists already have said, there is still much more work to be done. The pending ozone rule was just one part of a maze of overlapping and costly rules in store for American industry and most especially for the power sector. In particular, the utility air toxics rule and the transport rule are likely to result in substantial unemployment across dozens of industrial sectors, increase electric rates for strapped American families, schools and hospitals, and decreased electric reliability. As the President prepares his remarks for his jobs speech, we need more of this common sense – but today was a good start.”
“Abandoning the proposed smog standard is a good move, but the weight of government on the economy is still much too oppressive. Unless the president begins to roll back the countless regulatory oversteps he has already taken, along with those his predecessors imposed, the monthly jobs reports will continue to look like the one we just got for August – zero net new jobs, widespread long-term unemployment, and further economic stagnation.”
“President Obama has acted in the best interests of America’s workers, families and economy by telling the Environmental Protection Agency to cease and desist in its effort to impose unrealistic, unjustified and unneeded new ozone standards on our nation.
“The extreme standards EPA was considering would have caused devastating harm, wiping out millions of American jobs and costing our economy more than $1 trillion over a decade, without any significant environmental or health benefits. This is the last thing our nation needs with the unemployment rate stuck above 9 percent.
“We appreciate that President Obama has renewed his call for reducing regulatory burdens, and want to work with him and his administration to further this important goal. America’s leaders need to make a realistic cost-benefit assessment of what is possible and desirable before imposing further regulatory burdens that would weaken our economic and national security.”
We think it’s prudent, especially with the economy having such a hard time emerging from recession.
Here are the statements that are critical of the President’s decision:
“Corporate polluters don’t have to worry about dismantling the Clean Air Act, it appears that President Obama is doing it for them.
As Americans prepare for the holiday weekend, President Obama has announced that he doesn’t plan on enforcing a law that would have prevented 12,000 deaths every year by protecting Americans from ozone pollution.
The President, along with Big Oil and the other corporate polluters whose interest he is serving with this decision, are hoping you won’t notice.
Too bad. We’re paying attention and the President needs to know that putting thousands of American lives needlessly at risk is a serious political miscalculation.
“I am outraged. This is a serious mistake for public health. The current standard used was based on the science as of 14 years ago — before we knew that ozone killed people.”
“The Sierra Club condemns the Obama administration’s decision to delay critical, long-overdue protections from smog, an acidic air pollutant that when inhaled is like getting a sunburn on your lungs. By putting the interest of coal and oil polluters first, the White House seems to be saying that ‘clean air will have to wait.’
“A healthy economy requires clean air and healthy people, and these protections from smog would have improved our communities and saved billions of dollars in health costs. Half of U.S. families live in places where it is literally unsafe to breathe the air, and kicking the inhaler down the road will do nothing to protect our children.
“We thank the scientists and public health professionals at the EPA for their commitment to science, and we look forward to the day when strong clean air protections will prevent thousands of premature deaths and tens of thousands of asthma attacks. The Sierra Club and the millions of Americans who have suffered through orange and red-alert air quality days this record-breaking summer will continue to push the Obama Administration to improve this protection in order to save lives and clean up our air.”
“President Obama decided today to trash fundamental protections for Americans’ health. His decision will mean more children suffering from asthma and more permanent lung damage for adults. It is unacceptable.
“Adding insult to injury, President Obama claimed that asking corporations to act responsibly is too much of a ‘burden’ for them, ignoring the fact that studies show responsible environmental protections spur investment in clean technology and create jobs.
“The president’s claim that he has shown an ‘unwavering’ commitment to public health and the environment is absurd. In truth, when considering the extent of the transformation that’s needed, his administration’s record on environmental issues has bordered on the pathetic.
“Americans are crying out for leadership, instead we have a president taking his cues from Eric Cantor. To call this discouraging is an understatement.”
“The White House is siding with corporate polluters over the American people. The Clean Air Act clearly requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set protective standards against smog–based on science and the law. The White House now has polluted that process with politics.
“Our public officials, including in the White House, serve to protect us from harm. They need to get on with doing their jobs. Inaction cannot be an option when it comes to ensuring a healthy and prosperous America.”
“I strongly believe that protecting air quality based on the science leads to more job growth because it brings so many positive health benefits to our workers. Although I am disappointed with this decision to delay action, I am heartened by the President’s commitment to vigorously oppose any efforts to dismantle the Clean Air Act and the progress that we have made.”
“I am disappointed that the President chose to further delay important clean air protections that would have helped to prevent respiratory and cardiac disease in thousands of Americans.
“While I agree with the President that using up-to-date science to inform policy decisions is important, I disagree that the 2006 pollution science that the Bush Administration ignored should be ignored once again in favor of additional delays in issuing rules to reduce the smog-producing ozone that threatens public health.
“This administration previously has taken positive steps towards cleaning up our air by issuing interstate air pollution transport and tailpipe emissions rules.
“In light of today’s decision, I urge the President to direct EPA to move forward aggressively and use its full authority under the Clean Air Act to address the other clean air challenges facing the nation – from carbon pollution that is warming our planet, to mercury and other toxic air pollutants that are making the air unsafe to breathe.”
“The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe. This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health.”
According to the EPA, the clean air standards the President blocked would have saved up to 12,000 children, elderly folks, and others each year. That means thousands are likely to die because the President caved to big polluters. Many MoveOn members are wondering today how they can ever work for President Obama’s re-election, or make the case for him to their neighbors, when he does something like this, after extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich, and giving in to Tea Party demands on the debt deal. This is a decision we’d expect from George W. Bush, not from a Democratic President elected to protect the environment and the health of our children.
“It’s unfortunate that the Administration is siding with big oil over the health of children, seniors, and the infirm.”
“This is a new low for President Obama. He sold out public health and environmental protection to appease polluters. Mr. Obama’s shortsighted political decision will have long-term health consequences for millions of Americans.
Americans deserve clean air and a White House that takes public health seriously,” Suckling said. “Instead, President Obama today caved to the demands of big polluters and walked away from his obligation to protect the people.”
“This is not change we believe in. What President Obama has called a ‘regulatory burden’ is what we physicians call a protective health standard.”
“We are deeply disappointed that President Obama has postponed updating these regulations, as required by the science and law. In the interim, lives will be lost, related health care expenditures will continue to increase, and thousands will suffer from worsening chronic illnesses, such as asthma and other respiratory difficulties.”
“Today’s decision to halt work on a revised standard is completely at odds with the statement EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson made last year when she announced that EPA would reconsider the standard – ‘Using the best science to strengthen these standards is a long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.’”
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