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Akron Univ. School of Law

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

EPA Says Clean-Air Ruling Threatens Health

The Wall Street Journal reports that on Tuesday [July, 29, 2008], the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the Clean Air Interstate Rule, which sought to reduce smog-forming and soot-producing emissions that contribute to respiratory illnesses by allowing companies that exceed their emissions caps to buy allowances from companies that do not. The EPA had predicted that the rule would prevent about 17,000 premature deaths a year.  Stephen Power and Mark Peters write,

Car_fumesA federal court's decision to strike down the Bush administration's signature clean-air program threatens public health by encouraging companies to slow their pollution-control efforts, a top Environmental Protection Agency official told Congress.

Prospects for a legislative fix are clouded by a dispute between Democrats and Republicans over whether new pollution legislation should cover carbon dioxide, the main global-warming gas.

Separately Tuesday, four Democratic senators asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the EPA's administrator, Stephen Johnson, made false statements to Congress when he testified earlier this year that his 2007 decision to block California from regulating automobile greenhouse-gas emissions was his alone and not directed by the White House.

A White House spokesman accused Democrats of "throwing stones." A spokesman for Mr. Johnson defended the administrator's comments to Congress as being truthful and said Mr. Johnson's overall record was one that promoted "aggressive, health-protective environmental standards."

The matter occupying more senators' attention Tuesday was a decision earlier this month by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that struck down the Clean Air Interstate Rule. The regulation, announced in 2005 and covering more than two dozen, mostly Eastern, states, sought to bring about major reductions in smog-forming and soot-producing emissions that contribute to respiratory illnesses by instituting a "cap and trade" system in which companies that exceed their emissions caps can buy allowances from companies that do not. The EPA had predicted that the rule would prevent about 17,000 premature deaths a year.

In response to a court challenge brought by some power companies, the court invalidated the regulation, saying the agency had overstepped its authority.

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