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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.”

Go deeper

Ben Geman, author of Generate
Jan 20, 2021 - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley announces run for re-election

Photo: Greg Nash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the longest-serving Senate Republican, announced on Friday that he's running for re-election in 2022.

Why it matters: The GOP is looking to regain control of both chambers of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections. Several Republicans had urged the 88-year-old senator to run to avoid another retirement after five incumbent senators said they wouldn't seek re-election.

China deems all cryptocurrency transactions illegal

A person walking past China's central bank in Beijing in August 2007. Photo: Teh Eng Koon/AFP via Getty Images

China's central bank declared on Friday that all cryptocurrencies are illegal, banning crypto-related transactions and cryptocurrency mining, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: China's government is now following through with its goal of cracking down on unofficial virtual currencies, which it has said are a financial, social and national security risk and a contributor to global warming.