New federal EPA smog standard angers both sides of the issue

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency adopted a stricter smog limit Thursday that will force states to reduce emissions over the next decade, improving respiratory health for millions of people through pollution controls that will cost industry billions of dollars.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy issued a new standard strengthening limits on ground-level ozone to 70 parts per billion, down from the 75-ppb standard adopted in 2008 by the Bush administration.

The tighter restrictions will have the greatest impact in California because the state has the nation's worst air quality and has failed to meet previous ozone standards.

The EPA's long-delayed decision disappointed public health advocates and environmentalists, who had endorsed a 60-ppb standard. They said they were likely to challenge the EPA in court for selecting the weakest option under consideration.

“The big polluters won this time, for the most part,” said Frank O'Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch. “This is truly a blemish on the president's environmental legacy.”

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