EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said science does not support a more stringent standard than the one EPA is proposing
EPA proposes tightening its standard on fine particulates
The Environmental Protection Agency this week proposed a new standard that would tighten the daily limit for fine particulate matter (particles 2.5 microns in diameter and smaller) from power plants, cars and other sources, and would leave the annual limit on soot unchanged. EPA said it wants to reduce the daily limit on soot, which currently stands at 65 micrograms per cubic meter of air, to 35 micrograms. The annual standard-15 micrograms per cubic meter of air-would not be changed.
The agency issued the draft rule on Tuesday to meet a court-ordered deadline of midnight. The proposal was immediately attacked by environmental and health groups as too weak, while the Edison Electric Institute said it was too strong.
EPA's independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee recommended in June that the agency strengthen the daily standard to between 30 and 35 micrograms and reduce the annual limit to between 13 and 14 micrograms. Health and environmental groups wanted the agency to adopt an annual standard of 12 micrograms, the Associated Press reported.
EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson said the scientific evidence, taken as a whole, does not support a more stringent standard than the one the agency proposed on Tuesday.
The American Lung Association estimates that 60,000 people die prematurely every year in the United States because of fine-particle pollution. The tiny particles, which are no wider than one-thirtieth of a human hair, lodge in lungs and arteries and make people more susceptible to heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and other respiratory diseases, a number of studies have concluded. More than 2,000 new studies have been published on the risks of these small particles of soot, The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
EPA will take public comment on the proposal for three months and will hold public hearings on it in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco. The proposed rule, which is nearly 300 pages long, is posted on EPA's Web site, www.epa.gov.
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