The tough new air quality standard is sure to be challenged in court. Winning the challenges will be tougher.
EPA has just issued a rule tightening the air quality standard for PM2.5 — the tiny particles most dangerous to health — from an annual average of 12 μg/m³ (micrograms per cubic meter) down to 9 μg/m³. EPA estimates that, by the time the rule goes into effect in 2032, it will avoid 4500 premature …CONTINUE READING
The standards have gotten tougher. Compliance still lags.
The goal of the Clean Air Act is to achieve national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS), with the primary requirement being protection of public health. As our understanding of the health effects of air pollution has improved, there has been a general trend toward tightening the standards. However, it’s very hard to keep track of …CONTINUE READING
Cleaning up our nation’s air benefits the disadvantaged most of all.
Evidence is mounting that air pollution regulation is an effective way of reducing health disparities between disadvantaged communities and the population as a whole. The basic reason is simple: Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to poor communities and communities of color. As the American Lung Association has said: “The burden of air pollution …CONTINUE READING
Welcome to 2023. It’s going to be a wild ride.
In the past week, we’ve gotten a glimpse of what the next two years will look like. On the one hand, chaos in Congress. On the other hand, quiet progress toward environmental goals by the Biden Administration. Both trends are likely to continue throughout this Congress and the second half of the presidential term. The …CONTINUE READING
Tightening air quality standards will also reduce carbon emissions.
The Biden Administration is slowly grinding away at an important regulatory task: reconsidering the air quality standards for particulates and ozone. Setting those standards is an arduous and time-consuming process, requiring consideration of reams of technical data. For instance, a preliminary staff report on fine particulates (PM2.5) is over 600 pages long. When the process …CONTINUE READING
National air quality standards may be among the most powerful levers for environmental justice.
The environmental justice movement began with a focus on neighborhood struggles against toxic waste facilities and other local pollution sources. The EJ focus now includes other measures to ensure that vulnerable communities get the benefit of climate regulations. The most powerful tool for assisting those communities, however, may be the National Ambient Air Quality Standards …CONTINUE READING
The DC Circuit upholds a major air regulation.
On Friday, the D.C. Circuit decided Murray Energy v. EPA. The court upheld EPA’s health-based 2015 air quality standards for ozone against challenges from industry (rules too strong) and environmental groups (rules too weak). However, it rejected a grandfather clause that prevented the new standards from applying to plants whose permit applications were in-process when …CONTINUE READING
The Trump EPA has come up with a way to hide hundreds of deaths in plain view.
According to press reports, EPA is preparing to ignore possible deaths caused by concentrations of pollutants occurring below the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS). This is a key issue in a lot of decisions about pollution reduction. For instance, there is no NAAQS for mercury, but pollution controls on mercury would, as a side …CONTINUE READING
Environment and public health advocates voice their concerns about EPA’s regulatory reform efforts under EO 13777
The public health and environmental communities took a small victory on an EPA conference call yesterday. In a three-hour public comment call that could have been dominated by industry seeking regulatory rollbacks, about half of the speakers supported strengthening environmental and public health protections. And many of them took EPA to task for such a …CONTINUE READING
Another California Regulatory Agency in Crisis: Southern California’s Air Quality Management District Fires Longtime Executive Officer
Barry Wallerstein’s Ouster from SCAQMD Signals Tilt Away from Protection of Public Health
In a move that shocked the environmental advocacy community and low-income communities of color that suffer most from the impacts of poor air quality in Los Angeles, the governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District fired its longtime executive officer Barry Wallerstein today, voting 7-6 in closed session to remove him from …CONTINUE READING