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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

Wall Street Journal editorial board urges Trump to resign

Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board on Thursday urged President Trump to resign to avoid a second impeachment, saying his actions before and after Wednesday's deadly siege on the U.S. Capitol crossed a "constitutional line."

Why it matters: It is one of the strongest editorial board rebukes of the president by the WSJ, which is owned by conservative media mogul and former Trump confidante Rupert Murdoch. The board was generally favorable of Trump for much of his presidency.

Mike Allen, author of AM
27 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Biden-Harris, Day 1: What mattered most

President Joe Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden arrive at the North Portico of the White House. Photo: Alex Brandon-Pool/Getty Images

The Axios experts help you sort significance from symbolism. Here are the six Day 1 actions by President Biden that matter most.

Driving the news: Today, on his first full day, Biden translates his promise of a stronger federal response to the pandemic into action — starting with 10 executive orders and other directives, Caitlin Owens writes.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Read: Pete Buttigieg's opening statement ahead of confirmation hearing

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to be secretary of transportation, in December. Photo: Kevin Lamarque/AFP via Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg, President Biden's nominee to lead the Transportation Department, will tell senators he plans to prioritize the health and safety of public transportation systems during the pandemic — and look to infrastructure projects to rebuild the economy — according to a copy of his prepared remarks obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: Buttigieg will testify at 10 a.m. ET before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. He is expected to face a relatively smooth confirmation process, though GOP lawmakers may press him on "green" elements of Biden's transportation proposals.