December 14, 2012
EPA Finalizes Standards for Soot Pollution
by Robert Kropp
The emissions standards for fine particle pollution, which could prevent up to 40,000 premature
deaths by 2030, receives the usual objection of being anti-business from the US Chamber of
The Grand Old Party has twisted itself into knots trying to cast the recent elections as a
stalemate with no clear winner; a fiction, of course, as the results indicate beyond question. But
what else can be expected of a group of wealthy white men who have spun fictions regarding some of
the most important issues addressing the nation—climate change, wealth inequality, and gun control,
to name but three—and persist in hoping that citizens believe them?
The Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) has been a particular target of well-funded lobbyists such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and
the voice of the people as spoken in the recent elections seem to have had no effect on that.
Consider, for instance, today's regulations on fine
particle pollution issued by the agency.
Scientific studies have linked fine particle
pollution exposure to numerous health problems as well as environmental damage. The new
regulations, which address airborne particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in diameter,
revise the standard by lowering the level of fine particles to 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter.
According to the agency, "Fewer than 10 counties, out of the more than 3,000 counties in
the United States, will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in
order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act." Health benefits from the
new regulations could amount to as much as $9 billion per year, while preventing up to 40,000
premature deaths by 2030. The const of implementing the regulations are expected to be no higher
than $350 million.
No rational cost benefit analysis, however, is convincing enough to
deter the US Chamber of Commerce from persisting in its battle on behalf of continuing the
externalization of the costs of environmental damage. In a statement, the Chamber's Senior Vice
President—Bill Kovacs, the same man who in 2009 pledged to mount "the Scopes monkey trial of the
21st century" in an effort to disprove climate science—said that implementation of the rule would
have "devastating effects on local economies."
"EPA engaged in result-oriented rulemaking
to justify the most restrictive air quality standards ever issued," Kovacs continued.
Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, stated, "By setting a
more protective standard, the EPA is stating that we as a nation must protect the health of the
public by cleaning up even more of this lethal pollutant."
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