President Bush interfered at the last minute to weaken the recently announced U.S. ozone standards, according to EPA documents. On Wednesday, the EPA set both the “public health” standard (how much ozone is in one place at one time) and the “public welfare” standard (consideration of the long-term effect of ozone) at the same level. Before Bush interfered, the agency planned to make the “public welfare” standard more stringent, as encouraged by greens and EPA scientists. “This is not a weakening of … standards,” a White House spokesperson said Friday. “It was an effort to make the standards consistent.” But since Bush’s order to make the limits less stringent was in direct conflict with past EPA statements on the negative effects of ozone, the announcement of the standards was delayed for five hours while officials scrambled to make up new legal justifications for the weakened limits.
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