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E&C Republicans Urge EPA Not to Shortcut Review of Proposed Air Quality Standards to Avoid Destroying Local Economies


10.14.22

Washington, D.C. — House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee Republican Leader David McKinley (R-WV), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Morgan Griffith (R-VA) sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan requesting that any effort by the EPA to revise national air quality standards—particularly, PM2.5 standards—must ensure ample time for public comment and evaluate whether any changes clearly improve public health. 

Excerpts and highlights from the letter to EPA Administrator Regan:

EPA MUST PROVIDE BETTER REGULATORY CERTAINTY: “Less than two years ago, EPA, pursuant to Clean Air Act requirements, completed an exhaustive review of the PM2.5 standards, concluding that existing standards protect public health with an adequate margin of safety. However, just six months later, in June 2021, you directed the agency to review that decision. We understand EPA recently submitted the resulting reconsideration proposal to the White House for interagency review.

“When EPA seeks public comment on that proposal, you should ensure the agency follows its own past precedents as well as requirements under the Administrative Procedure Act to accept comment on retaining the existing standards. Furthermore, we believe you should ensure the public has at least 90 days to submit comments once any proposal is published.”

[…]

“EPA’s reconsideration of the 2020 PM2.5 standard comes at a time of ongoing improvements to air quality. EPA, states, and the regulated community have successfully worked together to slash PM2.5 emissions, resulting in a 37% improvement in related air quality since 2000. These emissions reductions will continue under existing programs without changes to the PM2.5 standard.”

PROTECTING PUBLIC HEALTH, JOBS, AND THE ECONOMY: “Lowering the standard will create a regulatory burden that undermines community business investment, reduces tax revenue that support local schools and first and frontline responders, and effectively hamstrings efforts to overcome tough economic times. These impacts reverberate to every part of the country already reeling from a recession.”

[…]

“Moreover, the consequences of lowering PM2.5 standards extend even to areas meeting those standards. New projects and major expansions in these areas require permits demonstrating that they will not exceed the standards. Manufacturing businesses trying to make such demonstrations are already pinched between PM2.5 standards set near levels of emissions that naturally occur or are transported from other countries, and EPA modeling designed to over predict PM2.5 concentrations. Lowering PM2.5 standards further would eliminate the small margin left for manufacturers and to obtain the necessary approvals for new, state-of-the-art projects. This could force companies operating in areas meeting PM2.5 standards to install controls even more costly than those required in areas that fail them – or to simply not build at all.”

BOTTOMLINE: “Changes to the PM2.5 standards should therefore clearly improve public health – especially with PM2.5 emissions already on a continuing, downward trajectory. It is critical, then, for EPA’s reconsideration to get the science and the rulemaking process right. That requires accepting comment on the full range of issues, including retaining existing standards, and providing stakeholders sufficient time, at least 90 days, to file comments.”

CLICK HERE to read the full letter.

Letter