White House Abruptly Orders EPA To Loosen Clean Air Rules In Polluter Giveaway

With little notice, President Donald Trump ordered the Environmental Protection Agency on April 12, 2018 to dramatically overhaul national clean air standards and make it easier for industry to pollute in areas where it’s already dangerous to breathe. The executive order puts poor communities and people of color particularly at risk.

The executive order ― titled “Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation ― Policies and Procedures Relating to Implementation of Air Quality Standards” ― reverses an Obama-era decision. The 2015 decision allowed the EPA to intervene in states that fail to meet National Ambient Air Quality Standards, forcing them to adopt federal regulatory plans to reduce ozone emissions that generally come from power plants, refineries and cement factories.

It opens the door to drastic changes in how science is used to set clean air rules, disqualifying huge amounts of peer-reviewed public health research in favor of industry-backed studies in a move that builds on steps EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt has already taken.

The order requires the EPA to speed up reviews of state plans to reduce air pollution, setting a strict 18-month deadline, and complete reviews of all pre-construction permits for industry within a year. Construction permitting is primarily a state-level issue; the language in the order, critics say, appears to be a dog whistle to polluters, suggesting the EPA would pull back on any oversight.

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