Friday, September 22, 2006

Harsh & Opposite Reactions To EPA's PM Regulations

Sep 21: The American Lung Association (ALA) released a statement on U.S. EPA's final regulations for establishing National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine and coarse particle particulate matter (PM) [See our 9/21/06 post]. While EPA's Administrator Stephen Johnson hailed the regulations as "the strongest national air quality standards in the country's history," ALA said, "We are extremely disappointed with the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter pollution announced today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Unfortunately, EPA’s standards fail to protect the health of the public, despite the requirement in the Clean Air Act that they must. Overwhelming evidence shows that millions of people suffer unnecessarily -- even face an earlier death -- because they breathe this pollution. EPA could have -- should have -- done better. The American Lung Association recommended much more protective fine particle standards, an annual standard of 12 µg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 µg/m3. ALA indicated, "While almost any improvement in the weak 1997 standards is better than nothing, EPA’s modest revisions cannot be justified. The EPA chose not to tighten the annual PM 2.5 standard, 15 µg/m3 and the 24-hour standard was only lowered to 35 µg/m3.

The State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators/Association of Local Air Pollution Control Officials (STAPPA/ALAPCO) -- the two national associations of air pollution control agencies throughout the United States -- also issued a brief statement saying, "EPA's rule defies the agency's stated principle of 'ensuring that the best available science remains at the center of [its] decision making.' For the first time in its 36-year history, EPA has ignored the recommendations of its independent scientific advisors, as well as agency staff experts, in setting health-based air quality standards. This final action will result in thousands of avoidable premature deaths, and thousands of cases of cardiovascular and lung disease throughout the country. On top of all this, after years of delay, EPA still has not published the rule on how states must implement the 1997 fine particulate standards. In addition, at a time when states and localities are preparing plans to achieve the 1997 standards, the Administration has proposed to slash funding for their clean air programs by over 15 percent."

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) issued a release saying it is "concerned that Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent decision to change current air quality standards will further drive up the nation's already sky-high energy prices and reduce or restrict affordable energy choices for consumers and industrial users. While ACC supports EPA’s final decision to retain the previously existing annual limit of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), it is disappointed that EPA decided to further tighten the daily limit. The signed final rule retained the current annual standard of 15 µg/m3, while increasing the stringency of the daily standard from the existing 65 µg/m3 to the new standard of 35 µg/m3. EPA’s own analysis shows that the existing PM2.5 standard is more protective than EPA had assumed when it first issued the standard in 1997, and would have continued to provide the necessary public health protection as EPA improves its understanding of fine particulate emissions."

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) criticized EPA's new air quality regulations saying they "will impose significant burdens and great costs on U.S. manufacturers." NAM said the “scientific evidence does not show any significant association with health effects at ambient concentrations.” NAM President John Engler said, “Changing the standard now, even while the current standard has yet to be implemented, would move the goalposts during the middle of the game, creating investment and business uncertainty. Manufacturers already spend considerably more on pollution abatement than their global competitors, and imposing excessive and needless new regulations would do nothing to fulfill EPA’s duty to protect environmental quality. This further revision of an air quality regulation is further proof that Congress should step in to streamline contradictory and overlapping programs. Doing so would ensure continued improvement in the nation’s air quality while sustaining economic growth.”

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Environment & Public Works Committee commented on the PM regulations saying, “I am disappointed that EPA is tightening the particulate matter standard in today’s final rule. Recognizing that Administrator Stephen Johnson is a scientist himself, I respect his judgment and his command of the science, but I respectfully disagree that this new rule meets the threshold burden of proof necessary to impose these costly requirements on our nation’s economy... “Unfortunately, clean air progress has not been uniform across the country, as some regions are not expected to comply with existing law. Recognizing this fact, I recently introduced legislation to ensure that the nation’s worst polluted areas comply with the laws of the land. The simple fact is that more than half of the avoidable deaths from air pollution in this country occur in California, and most of these lives could be saved if the worst polluted areas were to attain the same clean air standards that the rest of the nation is going to meet."

Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT) Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, issued a statement saying, "I am deeply disappointed by EPA's decision to disregard the advice of its own science advisors. Instead of following their advice by adopting standards that would save thousands of lives, the EPA chose the politically expedient path. We need air quality standards that tell us when the air is safe to breathe, not standards that tell us when the air is only partially safe to breathe."

Other groups issued releases including Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Earthjustice, the National Environmental Trust (NET), U.S. PIRG [See links below].

Access the ALA release (
click here). Access the STAPPA/ALAPCO website for additional information (click here). Access the ACC release (click here). Access the NAM release (click here). Access the Senator Inhofe release (click here). Access the Senator Jeffords release (click here). Access the Sierra Club release (click here). Access the NRDC release (click here). Access the NET release (click here). Access the Earthjustice release (click here). Access a release from U.S. PIRG (click here). Access the WIMS article on EPA's final regulations on the eNewsUSA Blog (click here). [*Air]