The delayed smog rule would lower the allowable concentration of airborne ozone to 60 to 70 parts per billion from the current level of 75 parts per billion, putting several hundred cities in violation of air pollution standards. The agency says that the new rule would save thousands of lives per year, but saving lives now seems to have taken a back seat to saving the costs to businesses and municipalities of having to meet those standards.
In the face of the changes in the political dynamic in Washington, the Obama administration is retreating on long-delayed environmental regulations. The new rules were set to take effect over the next several weeks, but this move will leave in place policies set by President George W. Bush while it pushes back deadlines to July 2011 to further analyze scientific and health studies of the smog rules and until April 2012 on the boiler regulation.
Environmental advocates fear a similar delay on the approaching start of one of the most far-reaching regulatory programs in American environmental history, the effort to curb emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.