Bush Enjoys Breathing Lead
Family values from the worst environmental President in history:
The Bush administration is considering doing away with health standards that cut lead from gasoline, widely regarded as one of the nation's biggest clean-air accomplishments.
Battery makers, lead smelters, refiners all have lobbied the administration to do away with the Clean Air Act limits.
A preliminary staff review released by the Environmental Protection Agency this week acknowledged the possibility of dropping the health standards for lead air pollution. The agency says revoking those standards might be justified ''given the significantly changed circumstances since lead was listed in 1976'' as an air pollutant.
The EPA says concentrations of lead in the air have dropped more than 90 percent in the past 2 1/2 decades.
But Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., the incoming chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, called on the agency to ''renounce this dangerous proposal immediately,'' because lead, a highly toxic element, can cause severe nerve damage, especially in children.
''This deregulatory effort cannot be defended,'' Waxman wrote EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson.
Soon after lead was listed as an air pollutant 30 years ago, the Carter administration began removing lead from gasoline. Other big sources of lead in the atmosphere are from solid waste, coal, oil, iron and steel production, lead smelters and tobacco smoke.
Exposure to lead can also come from food and soil. Lead is one of six air pollutants the EPA is required to review every five years to make sure the health limits are protective enough. The others are ozone, soot, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide and nitrous oxides.
The EPA has repeatedly missed the deadlines set under the Clean Air Act, incurring the legal wrath of environmental groups.