EPA Toughens Air Quality Standards on Soot

Under The Direction Of President Biden, The EPA Toughens Air Quality Standards on Soot

The Biden Administration has issued tough new standards to limit deadly pollution from the fine particles (soot) found in emissions from industrial and utility smokestacks, as well as vehicle tailpipes (especially from diesel vehicles). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the new tougher air quality standards last week.

The new air quality standards will apply to air pollution levels in states, counties, and tribal areas. When soot pollution exceeds the new limits, the EPA can justify tougher limits on air emission sources causing the pollution there. 

Health and environmental advocates praised the new standards as overdue and life-saving, while groups representing polluting industries complained about the cost of compliance. We anticipate that those polluter groups and some Republican-led states will challenge the new rules in court (as usual).

EPA Administrator Michael Regan told reporters the rule would prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and 800,000 asthma attacks annually by 2032, as part of an overall annual $46 billion in net health benefits. He further noted the rule will especially benefit children, older adults and those with heart and lung conditions. Additionally, the rule will especially benefit people in low-income and minority communities which have been impacted by decades of industrial pollution. 

Soot puts tens of millions of Americans at risk, disproportionately harming low-income communities and people of color. It’s especially dangerous to vulnerable populations like children, the elderly, and those coping with compromised health. The EPA is putting public health first by requiring polluters to cut this dangerous pollution from the air we all breathe,” said Manish Bapna, President of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). 

Tougher Air Quality Standards: A Reminder Of What Is At Stake In 2024 Election

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) praised the new rules as well. “We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s new, tougher annual standard to cut deadly soot pollution and build a more clean and equitable energy future,” said LCV Vice President of Federal Policy Matthew Davis. 

This first strengthening of limits on deadly soot pollution in 12 years serves as the latest reminder of all that is at stake in this year’s elections. LCV has endorsed President Biden for re-election, and notes a return to the pro-polluter policies of the Trump Administration would be catastrophic for public health, environmental justice, and action to address the climate crisis.

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