EPA’s Pollution Rule Based on Cherry-Picked Science
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EPA has proposed to revise the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for “particulate matter” (PM), little bits of metal, chemicals, and other particles in the air. The proposed change would make the standard more stringent.
In comments to this proposed new standard, a group of industry associations including the U.S. Chamber, question its need, the process EPA used to develop the new standard, and its efficacy. The associations argue that “Neither the Clean Air Act nor the scientific literature regarding PM exposure justifies" such a change.
Here are some of their arguments that make the case.
EPA fails to argue that changing the standard will improve public health.
[A]t best, the state of scientific knowledge is unsettled and cannot support a change from current standards. Furthermore, when taken as a whole, the current state of the science suggests that the existing standard of 15 μg/m3 is sufficient (and therefore requisite) to protect the public health.
EPA used cherry-picked science to support the new standard.
EPA fails to take seriously its obligation to propose regulations that “accurately reflect the latest scientific knowledge” by adopting an ends-based approach that selects only the scientific evidence that supports the predetermined conclusion that the existing NAAQS must be revised.
[I]t is clear that the EPA has relied on selective, ends-based criteria that supports its policy preference, rather than engaging in an objective review of the full range of scientific perspectives on the potential health effects of PM exposure.
EPA predetermined the outcome before the rulemaking process started.
EPA has prejudged the outcome of this rulemaking, assuming that more stringent standards are needed without first assessing the merits of retaining the existing standard and by selecting a Clean Air Science Advisory Committee ("CASAC") chairperson who also publicly stated that more stringent standards were needed in 2006, before the EPA initiated this five-year science review for the PM NAAQS. Rom and Samet (2006). These errors are compounded by the EPA’s undue reliance on selective data, rather than a full weighing of all evidence including that which indicates the current NAAQS needs no revision.
By simply presupposing that a more stringent standard is necessary, the Agency has once again failed to adequately explain why the proposed standard is necessary or why a less stringent standard—such as the status quo—is insufficient to protect the public health with an adequate margin of safety.
Ignoring the public benefits of transparency, EPA's proposed visibility standards portion of NAAQS relies on the agency's own analysis of unpublished data.
Without access to the underlying data in the unpublished and unreviewed studies, the significance of these deficiencies remains unknown. As a result, neither the public nor the courts can appropriately assess whether the EPA’s cavalier dismissal of these concerns was warranted or whether other, unidentified concerns may exist due to the lack of any objective standard.
Regulatory agencies have the responsibility to craft rules that adhere to the law and are effective. EPA’s proposed PM standard fails to do either.