The Ozone Rule: What Sunstein Didn’t Say

On September 2, Cass Sunstein wrote a letter to Lisa Jackson about the ozone rule, “requesting” that EPA withdraw the regulation.  Beyond the fact that it was written at all, the letter is remarkable for its significant silences:

  • Although the letter notes that the rule was based on science that is five years old, it does not argue that more recent evidence would favor a higher ozone level, let alone justify leaving the Bush Administration’s ozone level (based on even older science) in place.
  • The letter does not contest that the rule would save many lives nor does it suggest that the regulation’s costs outweigh its benefits.
  • The letter argues that agencies should avoid “regulatory uncertainty” but does not explain why this should be a basis for killing a rule that saves lives and passes cost-benefit analysis.  Why does regulatory uncertainty outweigh the lives of thousands of Americans?
  • The letter also fails to explain why the ozone rule would increase uncertainty, as compared with the uncertainty created by litigation over the Bush Administration rule.

The evasive gaps in the letter convey a clear message: the White House made a political decision, plain and simple.  Principle had nothing to do with it.

Jackson could have eliminated the need for the letter by taking the initiative in withdrawing the rule.  Instead, she apparently insisted on a public request from Sunstein to make it clear that she was complying unwillingly. That’s to her credit.

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Reader Comments

3 Replies to “The Ozone Rule: What Sunstein Didn’t Say”

  1. Dan said:
    “…why this should be a basis for killing a rule that saves lives…”

    Dear Dan,
    Why should anyone believe that this rule would save lives when there is no mortality data to support this egregious claim? As you know, there are no clinical evidence, medical records, coroners reports, autopsy reports, death certificates, names, dates, and other such solid evidence which validates that human fatalities are occuring due to the current standards. Environmentalists should move beyond the old scare tactics and fallacies of “pre-mature” deaths and deal with their issues more seriously. The public will no longer be persuaded by such shallow and foolish diatribe.

  2. From a California perspective, I don’t really see this is a big deal. The current standards are like a test that 90% of a class fails. Is the solution to make the test harder or to make sure the students pass the existing test? The 75ppm standard is unattainable in parts of California. The South Coast and Central Valley are talking about doing away with the combustion engine altogether and even if that were possible, it might not get them into attainment.

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About Dan

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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