WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama announced Friday that he has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to drop controversial rules to cut smog levels, a move welcomed by the business community that has long decried them as onerous but one sure to alienate the president’s environmental base even further as his administration backs away from key anti-pollution initiatives.
In a statement issued by the White House, the president said: “I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time.”
Low-level atmospheric ozone occurs when sunlight reacts with air containing hydrocarbons and emissions like nitrogen oxide. Research shows that living in areas with high concentrations of ozone worsens respiratory ailments. The EPA estimates that up to 12,000 lives could be saved annually from implementing the new standards.
Rain-packed Tropical Storm Lee forms off Louisiana
NEW ORLEANS — A large storm system churning in the Gulf of Mexico grew Friday into Tropical Storm Lee, beginning a Labor Day weekend-long assault that could bring up to 20 inches of rain in some spots from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle.
The storm was expected to make landfall on the central Louisiana coast late Saturday and turn east toward New Orleans.
Over the Atlantic Ocean, Katia was about 705 miles east of the Leeward Islands and moving west-northwest at 14 mph with maximum sustained winds Friday of 75 mph, making it a Category 1 hurricane. Forecasters said it would continue to grow stronger. The hurricane center said it was too early to tell if Katia will hit the U.S. but that it is expected to pass north of the Caribbean.
There was also a slow-moving low pressure system about 450 miles south of Halifax, Nova Scotia, that had a 60 percent chance Friday of becoming a tropical cyclone in the next two days.
Toy poodle helps rescue man from burning home
WEST JORDAN, Utah — Authorities say a toy poodle saved a life in Utah by leading firefighters through his owner’s smoke-filled home to a man asleep in the basement.
The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the dog named Ted was spotted by paramedics responding to the fire in West Jordan early Friday. Officials say that when they tried to catch Ted to bring him outside, he headed downstairs instead.
They say he waited until they caught up with him, then led them to a 19-year-old man who was sleeping on a couch in the basement.
Authorities say the man was treated for smoke inhalation and the dog was not injured. A woman and two children had already escaped the fire, which was possibly caused by a gas leak.
Ohio woman finds, turns in wallet with $4,600
SOLON, Ohio — Police say an Ohio man has been reunited with his lost wallet containing $4,600.
A woman found it in a shopping cart outside a Bed Bath & Beyond store in Solon on Thursday and took it to police. Thirty-year-old Leah Kleppinger of Twinsburg told The Plain Dealer of Cleveland that keeping the money would have been stealing.
“There are still honest people in this world,” Solon police Lt. Bruce Felton said in an email.
Felton said the man who lost the money carries a lot of cash in his work.
When he picked up the wallet, the man left a reward for Kleppinger at the police station. She did not say how much but said it was “completely unnecessary.”