After more than three years of ignoring science whenever it does not support this Administration’s preferred outcomes, the issue of the future of science in environmental regulation has now been well and truly joined. Yesterday, Administrator Wheeler, disagreeing with the recommendation of EPA’s own staff, announced that EPA is proposing to retain the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard for PM2.5 of 12 ug/m3, notwithstanding substantial evidence that PM2.5 poses significant risks even below 10 ug/m3. … More
Tag Archives: particulate matter
If You Thought That COVID-19 Was Bad, Try It Mixed With Some PM2.5!
Last week, I discussed the Administration’s guidance concerning the exercise of its enforcement discretion during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now comes evidence that the guidance may actually be self-defeating. While the administration is – understandably – trying to cut regulated industries some slack while they are trying to deal with COVID-19, it turns out that exposure to PM2.5 has a significant impact on the COVID-19 death rate.… More
Will The PM NAAQS Be the Real End of Agency Deference?
According to Bloomberg Environment (subscription required), EPA’s Clean Air Science Advisory Committee cannot reach agreement whether to recommend that the NAAQS for PM2.5 be lowered. Even after two years, I guess I had not realized the extent to which the scientists relied on by this administration are willing to ignore what used to be generally known as the “scientific consensus.”
Particulate Matter Has Not Clouded My Crystal Ball
Last month, I noted that EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards had released a draft reassessment of the particulate matter NAAQS. In a bold moment of speculation, I indicated that it would be difficult for EPA to avoid lowering the PM2.5 NAAQS to between 8.0 and 10.0 micrograms/cubic meter. Following issuance of the draft, and in order to ensure that EPA does not ignore the emerging scientific consensus,… More
Particulate Matter Is More Dangerous Than We Thought: What Will EPA Do With the NAAQS?
EPA’s Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards has released a draft of its reassessment of the adequacy of the current national ambient air quality standard for particulate matter. Here’s the primary takeaway concerning PM2.5:
The risk assessment estimates that the current primary PM2.5 standards could allow a substantial number of PM2.5-associated deaths in the U.S.
When taken together, we reach the preliminary conclusion that the available scientific evidence,… More
A Reminder of the Progress We’ve Made
Given how easy it can be to get discouraged about progress in addressing climate change, I think it’s helpful periodically to remember how much progress the U.S. has made in fighting air pollution. It thus seemed useful to note this story about current conditions in New Delhi, where PM levels are so high that one million (!) students are being kept home from school.
It’s also helpful to remember the tension inherent in the climate change fight. … More
Citizen Suits Remain a Potent Weapon
Although citizen groups have suffered some defeats in Clean Air Act cases in the NSR/PSD context recently, a decision last week in a different kind of CAA case is a reminder of just how powerful a weapon citizen suits can be, and just how difficult they can be to defend, even when the operator appears to have a good working relationship with the regulator. In NRDC v.… More
Putting a Price on Clean Air
There has been a lot of scholarly discussion in recent years about the importance of putting a price on natural resources. The pricing issue has been particularly in the limelight in connection with the drought in the western United States. Indeed, it seems fairly self-evident that, if we give away a scarce resource, people will consume too much of it.
I suppose, then, that we should not be surprised that we have already been one-upped on this issue by the Chinese. … More
More Than Four Years Later, the Bush EPA Is Still Losing Court Decisions
On Friday, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected EPA’s approach to implementation of the PM2.5 NAAQS. The fine particulate NAAQS was first published in 1997, and EPA issued implementation rules in 2007 and 2008. Those rules specified that EPA Subpart 1 of Part D of title I of the CAA – the general implementation provisions – rather than Subpart 4, which applies specifically to PM10. … More
Yawn: EPA Promulgates New Fine Particulate Standard
On Friday, EPA announced promulgation of its revised fine particulate, or PM2.5, NAAQS. Why am I yawning? Let me count the ways:
1. Because, in 2009, the District of Columbia Court of Appeals rejected EPA’s prior effort to keep the PM2.5 standard at 15 ug/m3.
2. Because, as I have previously noted, the Court of Appeals pretty much told EPA that it could not ignore the advice of its Clean Air Science Advisory Committee in setting the NAAQS.… More
EPA Proposes Revisions to the PM 2.5 NAAQS: How Much Will It Matter?
Last Thursday, in response to a court order, EPA finally proposed revisions to the national ambient air quality standard for PM2.5. The most significant part of the rule is EPA’s proposal to lower the primary annual standard from 15 ug/m3 to a range of from 12 ug/m3 to 13 ug/m3.
At a certain level, the proposal should not really be news and should not have a significant impact. After all,… More
Conventional Pollution Is Still Where It’s At: EPA Releases the Power Plant MACT Rule
If anyone had any doubts about the significance of the conventional pollutant regulations that EPA would be rolling out, even in the absence of a full cap-and-trade program for GHG, Wednesday’s release of EPA’s revised power plant MACT proposal should go a long way towards eliminating those doubts. As most readers know, the rule replaces the Bush-era MACT rule that would have created a trading program.
The rule poses a problem for critics of EPA. While arguments can be made about the feasibility of some of the standards and the cost to comply,… More