The Environmental Protection Agency had been getting ready to adopt a stricter standard for ground-level ozone, The New York Times reports.
The E.P.A. following the recommendation of its scientific advisers, had proposed lowering the so-called ozone standard from that set by the Bush administration to a new stricter standard that would have thrown hundreds of American counties out of compliance with the Clean Air Act. It would have required a major effort by state and local officials, as well as new emissions controls by industries and across the country.
Earlier this summer, leaders of major business groups met with administration officials to argue against the new standard. According to the Times, they argued that the rules would be very costly and hurt President Barack Obama's chances at re-election. The Obama administration will now stick to the standard Bush put in place in 2008 until 2013, when polution limits are scheduled to come under review.
"Over the last two and half years, my administration, under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has taken some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act four decades ago to protect our environment and the health of our families from air pollution," Obama said in a statement on Friday. "At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time."
Business groups and Republicans lauded the move, according to The Chicago Tribune.
"The president took a step today that highlights the devastating impact on jobs that has been created by this administration's regulatory overreach," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said. "This action alone will prevent more job losses than any speech the president has given."
The EPA rule announcement came on the same day as a worse-than-expected jobs report showed the U.S. economy added no new jobs in August.