Bush Personally Intervened With EPA Rules

The Washington Post is reporting today that..."EPA officials initially tried to set a lower seasonal limit on ozone to protect wildlife, parks and farmland, as required under the law. While their proposal was less restrictive than what the EPA's scientific advisers had proposed, Bush overruled EPA officials and on Tuesday ordered the agency to increase the limit, according to the documents."

Intervention by executive officials with sound science and research done within the EPA is becoming a trend. Last month, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson overruled the findings of his scientists to block California's request for stricter pollution rules. This was an unprecedented political interruption by an appointee of the President. Johnson's decision left California and EPA scientists bewildered. His explanation was vague and based on a political judgment rather than the results of scientific research.

Now, it seems the President is taking a similar role in EPA decisions by tweaking improved ozone limits to the benefit of his corporate friends. The EPA has two separate ozone restriction categories. First, there is a public welfare standard for minimizing long-term health impacts from high ozone levels. Second, there is the public health standard which sets limits on actual ozone levels in the short-term. Before the President intervened, the EPA had planned to make the first standard stricter to avoid long-term "adverse affects on agricultural crops, trees in managed and unmanaged forests, and vegetation species growing in natural settings."

The last-minute decision by the President to change the EPA's planned standards change created a lot of confusion for many in the Executive Branch. An EPA brief filed with the Supreme Court included the improved standards and had to be quickly amended by administration lawyers to avoid confusing the Court. A press conference scheduled to announce the improved standards was delayed so new talking points could be created.

In addition, President Bush's intervention may be a violation of the law. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council's reading of the Clean Air Act, Congress delegated its rule making authority to the EPA in cases like these, not to the President.

Read the full Washington Post story HERE.

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