Wednesday, July 18, 2012

API Says EPA's Science Doesn't Justify PM2.5 Proposal

Jul 17: Howard Feldman, Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs at the American Petroleum Institute (API) delivered a statement at a U.S. EPA hearing in Philadelphia and said the Agency's scientific analysis for its proposal on fine particulate air standards was "inadequate and could not justify tightening them." He said continued implementation of the existing standards would further improve air quality.

    Feldman said, "EPA has not proven a 'cause and effect' between PM 2.5 below the current standards and health effects…. Taken as a whole, the scientific studies cut in different directions…. There is no need to move the goalposts now. I am encouraged by the progress our nation has made in reducing fine particle emissions in our skies. The concentration of PM2.5 in the nation's air has declined by 24 percent between 2001 and 2010. The U.S. oil and natural gas industry has significantly contributed to these improvements by developing and manufacturing ultra-clean fuels that can be used in the new very low emission diesel and gasoline engines. More good news is that the improvements will continue…. When announcing this proposal, EPA stated that it has issued a number of rules already that will continue to make significant strides toward reducing fine particle emissions in the years ahead. These future improvements are independent of whether any action is taken to change these standards."
    On June 15, U.S. EPA announced that in response to a court order, it was proposing updates to its national air quality standards for harmful fine particle pollution, including soot (PM2.5) [See WIMS 6/18/12]. A Federal court ruling required EPA to update the standard based on best available science and EPA said its proposal, met that requirement, and "builds on smart steps already taken by the Agency to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country."
    EPA's said its proposal would strengthen the annual health standard for harmful fine particle pollution (PM2.5) to a level within a range of 13 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The current annual standard is 15 micrograms per cubic meter [See WIMS 9/21/06]. EPA said the proposed changes are consistent with the advice from its independent science advisors, and are based on an extensive body of scientific evidence that includes thousands of studies -- including many large studies which show negative health impacts at lower levels than previously understood.
    Mandy Warner, who testified at the hearing for Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said, "Philadelphia is home to 32,000 children at risk from asthma and more than 363,000 people at risk from heart disease. Emission reductions made here in Pennsylvania, along with reductions made in other states whose pollution travels into Pennsylvania, will help improve air quality, ensuring healthier, longer lives. . . The public has been waiting long enough for updated standards based on the latest science. Every year of delay has resulted in thousands of avoidable deaths, numerous heart attacks, asthma attacks, and other health impacts. We look forward to EPA finalizing strong health-protective standards."
    Access a release and link to the complete statement from API (click here). Access a release from EDF with links to the complete statement (click here). Access a list of speakers at the Philadelphia public hearing (click here). Access a release from EPA on the proposal with links to a map showing counties in attainment in 2020 and more information including the proposed rule, fact sheets and support documents (click here). [#Air]
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