EPA updates air-quality standards for annual fine PM

The US Environmental Protection Agency finalized an update to its national air-quality standards for particulate matter 2.5, setting the annual health standard at 12 µg/cu m.

PM2.5 refers to harmful fine particle pollutant that comes from soot. EPA noted that the Dec. 14 announcement regarding annual PM standards has no effect on the existing daily standard for PM2.5 or PM10, both of which remain unchanged.

API Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Howard Feldman said EPA’s new PM standards will increase costs and are unjustified given that existing standards are working (OGJ Online, Dec. 12, 2012).

“EPA’s new rule is unnecessary,” Feldman said. “There is no compelling scientific evidence for the policy decision to develop more stringent standards.”

He said the new standard could “be just the beginning of a regulatory cliff that includes forthcoming ozone rules, the refinery sector rules, pending greenhouse gas regulations for refineries, and the delayed boiler MACT rules.”

EPA believes that 99% of US counties are forecast to meet the revised health standard by 2020 without any additional actions. The other 1% primarily involves some California counties that will need to consider local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard as required by the Clean Air Act.

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