Dec 7, 2020 - Energy & Environment

EPA declines to tighten soot pollution standards

Andrew Wheeler.
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. Photo: Alastair Pike/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration will maintain the current standards for soot pollution, rejecting the recommendations of agency scientists to tighten them, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The state of play: EPA officials said they decided to keep the 12-micrograms-per-cubic-meter limit after review by a scientific advisory committee and considering public comments, per WSJ.

  • The move is "backed by chemical, oil and other industry groups that bear the costs of implementing the higher standards," the Journal writes.
  • Critics say low-income and minority communities, which are disproportionately affected by soot, will bear the brunt of the decision.

Yes, but: The agency's scientists in a report last year said studies support a new limit between 8 and 10 micrograms, which they said could potentially save more than 12,000 lives a year.

  • But officials noted that U.S. particulate matter levels are 20% lower than in France, Germany and Great Britain, and five times below the world average, per WSJ.

What they're saying: “The EPA under the Trump Administration has continued America’s leadership in clear air, lowering our particulate matter levels to well below those of many of our global competitors,” EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler said in a statement, per WSJ.

  • “Maintaining these important standards will ensure Americans can continue to breathe some of the cleanest air on the planet.”
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