Trump administration keeps existing smog limits, rejecting calls to toughen them


THE WASHINGTON POST - The Trump administration declined to impose stricter limits on smog-forming pollutants Wednesday, saying national ozone standards set in 2015 are sufficient. Public-health advocates had pressed for lower levels of ozone, arguing the hazardous gas disproportionately affects the most vulnerable Americans.

Formed when chemicals from power plants, cars and industrial operations are exposed to heat and sunlight, ozone is linked to an array of illnesses including childhood asthma and lung disease. The Clean Air Act requires the Environmental Protection Agency to set air pollution standards every five years to a level that protects public health.

EOH's Bernard Goldstein, who is a former assistant administrator for research and development at the EPA, faulted EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler with failing to take covid-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, into account when setting standards for either ozone or fine particles.

“There were so many ways he could have done it,” Goldstein said. “Instead, what he did was to ignore it.”  

Wheeler said the agency’s career scientists told him this summer that it would take time to determine if poor air quality makes Covid-19 worse.

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