EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson

Last month, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed a new standard on soot, small particles that cause a variety of unpleasant health effects. Now the Washington Post is reporting that the White House watered down the proposal behind the scenes:

EPA had originally wanted to tighten the annual exposure to fine-particle soot from 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 12 micrograms per cubic meter, according to an e-mail between Office of Management and Budget and EPA officials.

But OMB directed the EPA to make the limit between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

The Post got hold of an email attachment [Word document] in which an OMB employee makes corrections directly to the EPA’s announcement.

Click to embiggen.
Click to embiggen.

Click to embiggen.

What the EPA proposed as a reduction to 12 micrograms per cubic meter became “12 or 13.” A statement that the proposed change was based on scientific evidence was watered down to note that the proposed standard was “within the range” recommended. The Post:

White House spokesman Clark Stevens said OMB was in keeping with its mission when it “oversaw the interagency review process prior to the announcement of the proposal and worked closely with EPA to best assess feedback received through that process.”

Does this all sound a bit familiar? It should.

Last summer, the White House rejected EPA plans for a more restrictive rule on ozone pollution, prompting EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to briefly consider resigning, though she “soon abandoned the idea as a futile gesture,” the New York Times reported.