President Obama has yanked back the EPA's proposed new restrictions on ground-level ozone (i.e. smog). That's a huge win for Big Business, which had claimed it couldn't weather an economic downturn AND keep from suffocating people at the same time. But it's an equally huge loss for everyone else — especially since the reason the EPA was revising the smog standards in the first place was because the allowable limit was well above safe levels, according to the agency's science advisors.

The revised smog standard would have put federal dollars on the line for states that couldn't keep their ozone levels under control. That could mean that struggling states would close or prevent new businesses — but the most polluted areas would have had 20 years to get themselves into compliance. Still, businesses argued that even thinking about beginning to maybe implement the initial stages of a pollution reduction strategy would kill the American economy, and evidently that worked. Gah! What is going on in this White House??

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Now we all have to hold our breaths, literally, until 2013. At that point the standard is due to be revisited anyway, since it's usually revised on a five-year schedule.

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