A Loophole in the Ozone
Ending a six-year battle, the U.S. EPA reintroduced proposals yesterday for new standards to combat ozone, which causes smog. At issue in the battle was whether the ozone-pollution controls outlined by Congress in the 1990 Clean Air Act should apply to moderately polluted metropolitan areas. The act divided polluted areas into categories ranging from mild to severe and established timelines for each category to improve its air quality; its unusual level of detail reflected congressional frustration with state and local governments over years of failing to reduce smog levels. Now, though, the EPA wants to give many state and local governments back the power to make clean-air decisions, scrapping specific, federally mandated timelines and guidelines. The 1990 law would still apply to severely polluted areas like New York and Houston, but 35 other regions with an aggregate population of 50 million people would get to make their own rules.