Holy s***.

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.

Huh. Since lead was classified as a pollutant 30 years ago, we’ve managed a 90 percent reduction in lead levels in the air. And now industry wants that restriction to go away? It’s not a matter of being wrong about the dangers of lead – they want a clearly effective government regulation that has resulted in a healthier environment (and thus healthier people) wiped from the books. Why?

Because, despite costing just 1 to 2 cents per liter to remove the lead from gasoline, annual US gasoline consumption of 140 billion gallons would mean that a savings of $5.3-$10.6 billion in annual gasoline production costs could be realized.

Does anyone really expect that $0.01/gallon savings to be passed on to the consumer? I don’t – I’d expect those record quarterly profits to jump a whopping 25%.

I know the right wingers will bleat about “free market” and all that, but this is clearly an example of government regulation that works. 90% reduction in lead levels in the atmosphere.

And Bush’s EPA wants to roll that back.

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