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Obama halts controversial EPA regulation

By Julie Pace

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Sept. 2 2011 9:00 a.m. MDT

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is sacking a controversial proposed regulation tightening government smog standards, bowing to the demands of congressional Republicans and some business leaders.

In a statement Friday, Obama said he had ordered Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw the proposal, in part because of the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and uncertainty for businesses at a time of rampant uncertainty about an unsteady economy.

The announcement came shortly after a new government report on private sector employment report showed that businesses essentially added no new jobs last month — and that the jobless rate remained stuck at a historically high 9.1 percent.

The withdrawal of the proposed EPA rule comes two days after the White House identified seven such regulations that it said would cost private business at least $1 billion each. The proposed smog standard was estimated to cost anywhere between $19 billion and $90 billion, depending on how strict it would be.

The smog standard was among the Obama administration regulations that House Republicans said this week they would try to block this fall.

The move is sure to raise the ire of environmentalists, a core Obama constituency. In his statement, Obama said he was still committed to protecting public health and the environment.

"I will continue to stand with the hardworking men and women at the EPA as they strive every day to hold polluters accountable and protect our families from harmful pollution," he said.

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