September 8, 2011

President Obama joined George W. Bush when he rejected the Environmental Protection Agency’s new smog standards [“Obama halts tighter rules on ozone emissions,” front page, Sept. 3]. In a single, misguided stroke, he dismissed the best medical and scientific advice provided by the EPA and condemned thousands of Americans to poorer health.

In 2007, the EPA’s data showed that almost 120 million Americans lived in counties where the ozone standard was not met. We need and deserve cleaner, healthier air. The agency’s 2020 projections estimated that, if a 60-part-per-billion standard replaced the current 75-part-per-billion standard, cleaner air would prevent 4,000 heart attacks, 46,000 exacerbations of asthma, 18,400 emergency room visits and 332,000 lost days of work each year, plus myriad other adverse health effects. The projected cost estimates range from $8.3 billion to $18 billion, with benefits ranging from $53 billion to $100 billion. These numbers represent not just dollars but children struggling to breathe, adults dying prematurely from heart attacks, etc.

Instead of playing golf with House Speaker John A. Boehner, the president should invite him along with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to visit an inner-city emergency room to witness the personal tragedies of ozone-related illnesses.

Alan H. Lockwood, Buffalo

The writer is a member of the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

I’m writing to be counted as a Democrat who was impressed and wholeheartedly supported presidential candidate Barack Obama but now is beyond puzzled. I’m deeply disappointed, and I feel cheated. In this last blow, it seems as if he is giving away the environment. What a tragic and most serious turn of events. I hope there is some silver lining to his decision-making process that is not yet apparent. Because otherwise, he is letting down all of us who had hopes for a better America.

Margot Neuhaus, Washington