How much is it worth to save the life of a grandfather with lung disease or to keep an asthmatic child out of the hospital? The ozone rule, which EPA proposes today after years of politically motivated delay and while staring down the barrel of a court order, responds to the urgent calls of a gold-standard panel of scientists, who have been pleading with the agency to lower the existing standard of 75 parts per billion to the lower end of a range between 60-70 ppb. The Obama Administration did not quite do that, instead suggesting a range of 65-70 ppb, disappointing public health experts, and leaving thousands of lives in danger. But at least it got off the dime regarding one of the most important public health problems caused by air pollution. Hopefully, it will push the numbers down after the comment period.
Because China has ignored this very problem, citizens in that country’s big cities wear face masks every day. That’s why this rule is so important.
It’s not surprising that polluting industries are responding with hysteria, ignoring the public health benefits in favor of their bottom line. It’s way past time for this chorus of polluting profiteers and their allies in Congress to stop acting like money spent to clean the air is money wasted. Just ask families of people who struggle to breathe freely.