Politics

EPA Releases New Smog Standards

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a new smog pollution standard, lowering it from 75 parts per billion to 70, but no one seems happy with the change.

Industrial groups, including the National Association of Manufacturers and the American Petroleum Institute, had hoped the limit would not be reduced, while green groups say it wasn't reduced enough.

“Lowering the smog standard ... is a modest step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go far enough to protect the millions of Americans living in communities with dangerously high levels of smog pollution,” Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune told Politico.

The EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee said last year that reducing the limit to 70 parts per billion would provide "little margin of safety for the protection of public health, particularly for sensitive subpopulations,” The Huffington Post reported.

However, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy defended the agency's decision, saying that research only showed negative health impacts at 72 parts per billion.

"In this case, the science to me seems pretty clear," McCarthy said during a call with reporters, according to The Huffington Post. "While there are no bright lines, I am convinced that at 70 we are doing what [the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee] said.”

A limit of 70 is "way above the level that doctors say we need to protect people from death, from hospitalization, from asthma attacks, from other serious health impacts," said David Baron, managing attorney for Earthjustice. "Setting the standard at 70 parts per billion would be nothing short of a betrayal of the Clean Air Act's promise."

Those who opposed lowering the standard were also unhappy with the new standard. Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a statement that the standard was "overly burdensome, costly and misguided” and would “inflict pain on companies that build things in America -- and destroy job opportunities for American workers." 

Sources: The Huffington PostPolitico Photo credit: Simone Ramella/Flickr