EPA to Retain Ambient Air Quality Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposal to retain, without changes, the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for particulate matter (PM) including both fine particles (PM2.5) and coarse particles (PM10). 

“This proposal comes after careful review and consideration of the most current available scientific evidence and risk and exposure information, and with consultation and confirmation by the agency’s independent science advisors,” the agency said.

“The United States has made incredible strides in reducing particulate matter concentrations across the nation,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Based on review of the scientific literature and recommendation from our independent science advisors, we are proposing to retain existing PM standards which will ensure the continued protection of both public health and the environment.”

As a result of Clean Air Act programs and efforts by state, local and tribal governments, as well as technological improvements, average PM2.5 concentrations in the U.S. fell by 39% between 2000 and 2018 while average PM10 concentrations fell by 31% during the same period.

With this action, EPA is following the principles established in the earliest days of this administration to streamline the NAAQS review process and to fulfill the statutory responsibility to complete the NAAQS review within a five-year timeframe. 

Congressman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member said, “The United States is a world leader in growing our economy while simultaneously improving air quality. Between 1970 to 2018, air pollutants identified in the Clean Air Act have fallen 74% while the U.S. economy has grown by 275%. EPA’s decision to maintain the current National Particulate Matter Standards reflects this fact. Administrator Wheeler and the administration should be commended for partnering with states, local, and tribal governments in improving our air quality while allowing economic growth to continue.”

“Today’s announcement is a callous refusal to fulfill EPA’s duty to protect human health and the environment, and yet another failure of leadership from the Trump administration,” said Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee. “The health and lives of more Americans will be needlessly put at risk because of it.”

More information about the rule can be found at: www.epa.gov/pm-pollution/ national-ambient-air-quality-standards-naaqs-pm.

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