Obama pulls new air quality standards
Washington - US President Barack Obama on Friday withdrew a new set of draft air quality standards, arguing that their introduction would burden industry at a time of deep economic uncertainty.
Obama, who will next week unveil a major new plan designed to revive the economy, is under pressure from Republicans to strip away regulations on businesses.
He however insisted that his commitment to the environment was unwavering.
"I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover," Obama said in a statement.
Obama said that after careful consideration, he had asked Environmental Protection Agency administrator Lisa Jackson to withdraw draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards.
He said that he decided not to burden state and local governments with implementing new standards because they were due to be updated in any case in two years.
Republicans and the US Chamber of Commerce had argued that introducing the new standards would cost billions of dollars and cost jobs, at a time when the stuttering economy has stopped creating new employment.
But Obama's move will be greeted with dismay by environmental groups already angered by the president's failure to pass efforts to combat global warming through a hostile Congress.
The president however insisted that he had not diluted his commitment to the environment.
"I want to be clear: my commitment and the commitment of my administration to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering," he said.
"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."