When George W. Bush overruled scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency in 2008 and set a new smog standard that was considerably weaker than they had recommended, it was just another example of how closely entwined the interests of the energy sector and the Republican Party had become.
But when President Barack Obama this fall suddenly killed the stronger smog standards championed by his own EPA administrator -- thereby leaving the Bush-era standards unchanged -- it was a clear indication that the energy lobby's influence is powerful enough to intimidate the Democrats as well.
Obama's decision was widely seen as driven by politics, not science or even economics.
Lowering the ozone standard from 75 parts per billion to 60 parts would have prevented 4,000 to 12,000 premature deaths annually, along with 58,000 cases of aggravated asthma and 2. (Read more...)