EPA Takes Important Step Toward Science-based Policy, Environmental Justice

Earthjustice applauds EPA’s rethinking of particulate matter pollution rules


Erin Fitzgerald, efitzgerald@earthjustice.org

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will reconsider the recent National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter, or NAAQS, a “do nothing” rule the last administration published under the wire. Issued in December 2020, the rule left 2012 standards in place despite robust scientific evidence showing that these standards allow deadly levels of pollution. Joined by numerous partners, Earthjustice sued EPA in January on behalf of the American Lung Association, National Parks Conservation Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, and Union of Concerned Scientists.

The following statement is from Seth Johnson, the Earthjustice attorney leading the case: 

Particulate matter, or soot, pollution causes more than 100,000 premature deaths per year: that’s more than all traffic accidents and homicides combined. Communities of color are disproportionately affected by soot pollution. Soot pollution also blights views of scenic vistas and harms ecosystems. We applaud EPA for taking a good first step in addressing what many scientists consider the largest environmental risk factor in the country. We urge EPA to issue final emboldened science-based NAAQS for soot on an expeditious timeline, by summer 2022, to rein in industrial pollution. And we also urge the EPA to do the same for the vital ozone, or smog, NAAQS. Overburdened communities all over the country have the right to breathe clean air. Stronger soot and smog NAAQS are a long-overdue step toward accomplishing that goal.”

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