Local Economies Will Bear the Brunt of New EPA Soot Standard

Dec 14, 2012

Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA) headquarters in Washington, DC. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg.

In its all-knowing, high-mindedness, EPA wants to lower the standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) pollution--soot. The new rule lowers the current National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for PM2.5 from 15 µm/m3 to 12 µm/m3

The U.S. Chamber’s Senior Vice President for Environment, Technology, and Regulatory Affairs Bill Kovacs explains that EPA’s regulatory thrust will block economic growth in parts of the country that won't be able to meet the new air quality standard:

This revised PM2.5 NAAQS imposes burdensome new requirements on states, cities, and businesses. Changes to monitoring requirements under the new rule could lead to a significant increase in the number of nonattainment areas.  More nonattainment areas translate into a heavier administrative burden on states and cities, as well as devastating effects on local economies.  A nonattainment designation is tantamount to a cap on new business development.

National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons suggests a possible scenario where “Essentially, existing facilities will have to be shuttered for new facilities to be built in these areas.”

What’s more, as Kovacs points out,

EPA has ignored repeated expressions of concern by industry, including the Chamber, that the agency must not rush to issue this rule.  Despite EPA’s acknowledgment that the complexity of the rule required a year-long review, EPA took less than six months to finalize the rule.  EPA engaged in result-oriented rulemaking to justify the most restrictive air quality standards ever issued.

EPA’s “result-oriented rulemaking” has been going on for a while. Earlier this year, Kovacs noted that EPA has been using regulations like Utility MACT, on - and off-road diesel rules, boiler MACT, and cement MACT, to force “specific industries pay the entire price” for soot  reductions. This is the latest EPA power play in the name of environmental protection.

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