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Obama Halts Ozone Rule; May Limit Other Discretionary EPA Actions

Date: September 9, 2011

Source: News Room

President Obama's decision on Sept. 2 to withdraw EPA's ozone air quality standard appears to be a tacit admission that environmental rules can be economically damaging and may indicate a willingness to delay other discretionary policy measures, including pending chemical risk assessments, water quality guidance and others. Obama said that issuing a new standard now would have created regulatory uncertainty. "Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered." Meanwhile, House Republicans are vowing to continue their efforts to pass wholesale reforms tightening the regulatory review process, as well as to curtail other EPA rules.

White House spokesman Clark Stevens, in a Sept. 7 statement said "While the President has made clear that we must continue to ensure that new regulations are based on common sense, and implemented in ways that do not impede our economic recovery, he has also made clear that he will not accept the false choice of either having prosperity or clean air, clean water, and safe food. Americans deserve both, and we will continue to take steps that provide those protections, while fostering economic growth."

In the wake of the ozone decision, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is urging the president to further direct agencies to stop or delay rules not required by a statute or court order, arguing that they create uncertainty for business. The chamber sent a Sept. 5 letter urging the president to issue an executive order "directing agencies not to issue any discretionary regulations that would have a substantial economic impact -- until our rates of GDP and employment growth have substantially improved." The letter also called for measures to streamline permitting and promote domestic energy production.

House Republicans are also signaling to the administration their intention to move forward with a number of deregulatory proposals and are also asking President Obama for cost estimates for some 212 new actions planned by the administration.

"While we appreciate your announcement on Friday asking the EPA to withdraw its new draft ozone standards, we believe it is critical to not stop there, and instead to act to further reduce this cumulative regulatory drag of uncertainty on economic growth and job creation," House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) wrote in a Sept. 6 letter to Obama.

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