The Obama administration didn't want to tighten air pollution regulations until after the election—but lawsuits from 11 states have forced its hand. The Environmental Protection Agency will today announce a proposal for stricter rules on allowable soot levels. Though a final decision won't come until December, the proposal itself could open the floodgates of GOP criticism in swing states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, where Republicans could argue the new standards will kill jobs, the AP reports.
But "the science is clear, and overwhelming evidence shows that particle pollution at levels currently labeled as officially 'safe' causes heart attacks, strokes, and asthma attacks," says a rep for the American Lung Association. The administration says the new rules, prompted by thorough scientific investigation, won't require any major upheaval in most US counties. The new rule would set the maximum allowable standard for soot in a range of 12 to 13 micrograms per cubic meter of air, down from the current standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter. (Read more air pollution stories.)