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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.

Updated 56 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Satellite imagery of the Northeastern U.S. taken by NOAA on Jan. 17. Photo: NOAA

A major winter storm lashed much of the East Coast Sunday and Monday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The latest: Authorities in North Carolina confirmed that two people died in a car crash and that they responded 600 vehicle accidents during the storm on Sunday, per the Washington Post.

2 hours ago - Health

CDC director says COVID-19 messaging should have been clearer

Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the messaging around the COVID-19 pandemic and changing guidance should have been clearer.

State of play: Walensky is being coached by media experts and is planning to have more press briefings by herself in order to ensure that CDC is seen as an independent, scientific entity, rather than as a political one, the Journal reports.