“EPA after all these years just throws up its hands and says, ‘Oh, no, there [are] still some uncertainties.”
Some environmentalists are charging that the EPA gave in to political pressure with a decision this week to quietly put off new air standards to protect the environment from acid-rain-causing pollutants.
After a White House review, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson quickly signed a final rule on Tuesday that passed on setting new “secondary” standards for sulfur oxides and nitrogen oxides while admitting that current standards are not protective enough.
The final rule keeps current standards in place for protecting some plant life but passes the buck on new secondary air quality standards to protect estuaries, lakes and streams and their related plants, soils, water quality, fish and wildlife.
The agency argues in its rule, however, that new “primary” standards set in 2010, along with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule and the mercury and air toxics standards for utilities, will make big cuts to emissions.
Nevertheless, environmentalists supporting new air standards are dismayed at the decision. “It’s the wrong one,” said Center for Biological Diversity attorney Cathy Segal.
“The agency is under political pressure and in response the agency is doing less. It’s slowing down and shutting down,” Segal said.
Given recent inaction at the agency on a series of pending rules, Clean Air Watch President Frank O’Donnell said the decision is “no great shock — though is disappointing.”
The EPA argues that the science isn’t ready.
“This final rule recognizes that the existing secondary NOx and SOx standards do not provide adequate protection from these harmful deposition-related effects,” the EPA said in a fact sheet published with the rule…