At EPA hearings in Philadelphia and San Francisco today, residents and public health advocates sharply criticized the Bush administration's recently proposed national air quality standards for particulate matter (PM) pollution and called on the agency to substantially strengthen the standards in order to adequately protect all Americans.
The public expressed further outrage at EPA's proposal to ignore rural emissions of coarse PM and to exempt the mining and agribusiness industries from having to comply with the coarse particulate standard, leaving rural Americans completely unprotected from this potentially dangerous form of air pollution.
Earthjustice joined the chorus of disapproval and warned of legal action to protect public health.
In what is becoming a frightening trend, EPA has ignored the scientific evidence, as well as the recommendations of its own staff scientists and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee, regarding the human health impacts of both coarse and fine particulate matter pollution.
Jim Cox, legislative counsel for Earthjustice, told the Philadelphia hearing, "EPA's proposed standards for particulate matter defy the Clean Air Act's mandate to protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. The proposed standards are less protective than recommended by the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee, and if promulgated, would allow thousands of needless deaths, asthma attacks, and hospital visits. Moreover, in failing to propose more protective secondary air quality standards, EPA would be violating legal requirements to protect important public welfare values like visibility and ecosystem health."
Earthjustice scolds EPA for catering to special interests and abandoning rural residents suffering from particulate pollution.
A far cry from protecting the health of all Americans, the EPA has instead proposed to limit the new coarse PM standards to urban areas, leaving rural areas of the country with no protections. Earthjustice advocates point out that these portions of the rule were almost certainly written at the request of mining and agricultural special interests.
Paul Cort, staff attorney at Earthjustice, told the San Francisco hearing, "The lengths to which EPA will go to mangle the record to generate uncertainty are boldly transparent. EPA tries to argue that the health impacts of rural dust are uncertain. This attempt to feign ignorance is unsupported by the record or by common sense. There is more than enough certainty to adopt national standards that protect everyone from coarse particles—not just residents of certain cities."
Cat Lazaroff, Earthjustice, (202) 667-4500, ext. 213
Brian Smith, Earthjustice, (510) 550-6714
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