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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

EPA science advisers demand tougher smog standard

EPA Science Advisers Demand Tougher Smog Standard

Will EPA Chief Play Politics and Snub them Yet Again?

Washington, DC. October 25, 2006 – The nonprofit Clean Air Watch today hailed a call by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s independent science advisers, who unanimously urged the agency to set a tougher new standard to protect the public from smog.

In a letter dated October 24, the EPA science advisory panel said “there is no scientific justification” for keeping the current smog standard, set in 1997. They added that the current standard “needs to be substantially reduced to protect human health, particularly in sensitive subpopulations.”

The full letter is available at http://www.epa.gov/sab/pdf/casac-07-001.pdf

“This is clear and compelling evidence that today’s smog standards need to be updated,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

“Smog harms breathers, and the existing standards just don’t cut it when it comes to protecting public health.”

O’Donnell noted the recommendation comes on the heels of a controversial decision by EPA Administrator Steve Johnson to ignore the science advisers in setting industry-friendly standards for particle soot.

“Johnson played politics and snubbed the scientists in order to protect polluters,” said O’Donnell. “Would he dare do it again on an issue so obvious and easy to understand?”

Smog (technically known as ozone) has been linked to a wide range of health problems, including asthma attacks, increased emergency room visits, and premature death.

Ozone is caused by chemicals produced by traffic, oil refining, coal burning and other smokestack industries.

EPA is under a court order to make a preliminary decision by next May and to issue a final decision by February 2008.