In the weeks leading up to the reversal siding with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Petroleum Institute, Daley took several meetings with business leaders. At one meeting in August, Daley met with several CEOs and business lobbyists hours before entertaining public health and environmental groups:
Mr. Daley listened politely, then asked, “What are the health impacts of unemployment?” It was a question straight out of the industry playbook.
Another member of the group introduced polling data showing strong public support for tougher air rules. Mr. Daley cut him off with an expletive, saying he was not interested in polls.
Daniel J. Weiss of the Center for American Progress presented data showing little difference in employment and economic growth in areas required to adopt stricter ozone standards than those that did not. Mr. Daley nodded but said nothing.
As the meeting was breaking up, Mr. Daley said, “As you know, it’s a very difficult economic time.”
A Center for American Progress analysis found the economic concerns Daley raised to be unsubstantiated, finding “the standard unlikely to have much negative economic impact, but will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in lower health care costs.” Daley’s role, presumably in support of big business, chafed many environmentalists, who labeled the delay “a major blow to public health.” President of Clean Air Watch Frank O’Donnell said “good riddance” to Daley, and he “hopes that EPA will be permitted to do its job without Daley-style political interference on behalf of big business.”