Summary: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Friday a plan to strengthen the annual standards for particulate matter, also known as soot. Soot is one of the deadliest contaminants released into the air by fuel combustion, diesel engines and many industrial processes. Despite the attempts by industry lobbyists to attack the proposed limits, this is an important step toward protecting public health that will save thousands of lives and cut billions of dollars in healthcare costs.
“The fact that the EPA has been put back on track by the courts is an important first step in this process, but now the agency needs to set strong final standards to protect people from this deadly pollution,” said Paul Cort, the Earthjustice attorney who represented the Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association in the lawsuit. "The law requires it, and the millions of Americans who live in areas made filthy by particle pollution desperately need it.” He considers the proposal an “opening offer” and estimates that lowering the annual standard further could prevent as many as 27,000 deaths.
The proposal is expected to be finalized by mid-December of this year, with 99 percent of U.S. counties projected to meet the new standard by 2020.