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Does EPA need to be more stringent?

The announcement by the Environmental Protection Agency that it will enact less stringent ground-level ozone standards than those recommended by its scientific advisory committee, "continues the Administration's practice of not listening to scientific input," asserts the dean of Duke University's School of the Environment and Earth Sciences, Durham, N.C.


"The difference between the Administration's action and the recommendations of the panel will mean many more sick days, school absences, and deaths," insists Dean William h Chameides, an environmental chemist who served as chair of the National Academy-National Research Council committee mandated by Congress in 2001 to review air quality management in the U.S. Chameides also is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and was a member of the EPA's Board of Scientific Counselors in 2001-03.

"The EPA's standard-setting procedure is supposed to be based on science, not economics. After a thorough review of the issue, our National Academy committee concluded that scientific input is central to the standard-setting procedure. While the [EPA] should be applauded for lowering the standard, it is indeed unfortunate and troubling that [it] chose not to follow the input of [its] scientific panel to lower it even further. The scientific community has spoken. We need to listen to the scientists."

The EPA set the ozone standard at 75 parts per billion (ppb), despite the unanimous recommendation of its scientific advisory committee to set the standard no higher than 70 ppb and to consider a limit as low as 60 ppb. The Federal standard is stated in terms of average concentrations of ozone at ground level over an eight-hour period. Many public officials have been pushing for standards to be lowered to about 60 ppb, and that EPA scientific evidence indicates some people can be harmed at levels as low as 40 ppb.

EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson also contends he would push Congress to rewrite the nearly 37-year-old Clean Air Act to allow regulators to consider the cost and feasibility of controlling pollution when making decisions about air quality, something that currently is prohibited by law.
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Title Annotation:Ozone; Environmental Protection Agency
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2008
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