EPA Proposing to Keep Same Air Quality Standards

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it is proposing to forgo revision of particulate matter air quality standards and maintain those put in place in 2012.

The EPA will not make changes to air quality standards for particulate matter. The news comes despite a report by the Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards recommending changes, and a 2019 report issued by the formally disbanded Particulate Matter Review Panel that declared the current standards as not sufficient to protect public health.

The Agency concluded after a mandatory review that it is not necessary for them to impose stricter standards because during the period 2010-2018 the U.S. experienced a more than 30 percent decline in particulate matter concentrations. Environmental advocacy groups are disappointed with the decision.

From coverage by CNN:

“The last thing we should be doing right now is making it harder to breathe,” said League of Conservation Voters Legislative Director Matthew Davis. “This would have been a bad policy decision even before we were facing a pandemic that early research indicates is exacerbated by exactly this kind of air pollution — now it is simply unthinkable.”

As previously detailed on Conduit Street, a recent study suggests that COVID-19 patients from counties with higher levels of air pollution fare worse than those from less polluted areas. At the same time, the EPA is completing rollbacks on clean car regulations, and temporarily relaxing enforcement of pollution tracking and reporting requirements.