The standards chosen by the George W. Bush administration to protect people from smog probably wouldn't hold up in court, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says in a new letter to a key congressional ally, giving the best indication yet that the agency is planning to set stricter pollution limits this summer.
Yes, that's exactly what was supposed to happen, but now won't. Speaking of the Bush-era regulations, Jackson explained:
[I]t would have been illegal to set the standard outside the range that a board of expert scientists said was necessary to protect human health. It also would have led to more costs for cities and states, which wouldn't have known which standard to shoot for, she said.
"The legal defensibility of the 2008 decision posed major challenges for the federal government given the strength of the scientific record at that time," as well as the letter of the Clean Air Act and the recommendations of scientific advisers. "I decided that reconsideration was the appropriate path based on concerns that the 2008 standards were not legally defensible," she added.
These, of course, are the very same standards President Obama has decided to let remain in place by pulling draft regulations that would have created stricter rules on ozone pollution—rules which his own EPA chief thinks are necessary to comply with the law. I suppose the silver lining here is that if Jackson is right, the current set of rules could be overturned by lawsuit. Some day.