After years of court battles, the U.S. EPA agreed yesterday to begin enforcing a stricter standard for ozone pollution that was developed by the Clinton administration in 1997. Industry groups such as the American Truckers Associations and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to block the standard, but eventually lost their case on most grounds. With the Bush administration in power, it was left to environmental groups to coax the feds (in court) to establish a schedule to enforce the standard and thereby reduce smog levels around the country. The EPA will now designate cities that fail to meet the new standard by April 2004. At the moment, more than 300 communities in 38 states could be classified as “non-attainment” and be forced to implement pollution-cleanup plans. The EPA says the new standard for ozone and another one for particulates will prevent thousands of premature deaths, hundreds of thousands of cases of asthma, and 1 million cases of diminished lung function in children.
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