As efforts to undermine the Clean Air Act continue, President Barack Obama caved to corporate pressure in announcing Friday he would ditch an EPA clean-air regulation targeting smog, a move he states is due to "regulatory burdens.”
In a statement citing his environmental track record, Obama said his administration is responsible for “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,” according to Environment News Service.
Even as new job numbers released on Friday show the US economy is stagnant, with zero jobs created in August, the president tied withdrawal of the proposed regulation to his clinging economic recovery message.
“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,” Obama continued, in announcing his decision.
The new order by the president was quickly seized upon by many groups concerned about the growing issue of the nation’s air quality, as a growing number of Americans are suffering respiratory complications, including asthma and other lung-associated diseases.
Friends of the Earth issued a statement after the president’s decision, noting the lungs of Americans “are less important than polluting corporations and Eric Cantor.” The group’s managing director, David Hirsch said: “President Obama decided today to trash fundamental protections for Americans’ health. His decision will mean more children suffering from asthma and more permanent lung damage for adults. It is unacceptable.”
Public health standards suffered a major blow with the president’s decision, and while he cleverly made the announcement on the Friday before a holiday weekend, a move which could lessen the immediate furor over his decision, health groups will move his act into the long-term arena, with the American Lung Association saying it will take the action to court.
MoveOn.org, one of the groups instrumental in getting Obama his White House job, issued a critical statement, suggesting the president’s base might erode further. Justin Ruben, the group’s executive director, said: “Many MoveOn members are wondering today how they can ever work for President Obama's re-election, or make the case for him to their neighbors, when he does something like this, after extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich and giving in to tea party demands on the debt deal.”
Others in support of increased standards on air pollution were equally as dismayed over Obama’s decision. Gene Karpinski, president of the League of Conservation Voters said: “The Obama administration is caving to big polluters at the expense of protecting the air we breathe. This is a huge win for corporate polluters and huge loss for public health,” according to The Hill.
At issue for the GOP, however, is more jobs for Americans. The conservative party has repeatedly said more strict rules on air quality would hurt businesses, thus the nation’s job force. Republican Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said Obama’s decision was a good move, adding “But it is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to stopping Washington Democrats' agenda of tax hikes, more government `stimulus' spending and increased regulations, which are all making it harder to create more American jobs,” Huffington Post reports.