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December 14, 2012
EPA Finalizes Standards for Soot Pollution
    by Robert Kropp

The emissions standards for fine particle pollution, which could prevent up to 40,000 premature deaths by 2030, receives the usual objection of being anti-business from the US Chamber of Commerce.

The Grand Old Party has twisted itself into knots trying to cast the recent elections as a stalemate with no clear winner; a fiction, of course, as the results indicate beyond question. But what else can be expected of a group of wealthy white men who have spun fictions regarding some of the most important issues addressing the nation—climate change, wealth inequality, and gun control, to name but three—and persist in hoping that citizens believe them?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been a particular target of well-funded lobbyists such as the US Chamber of Commerce, and the voice of the people as spoken in the recent elections seem to have had no effect on that. Consider, for instance, today's regulations on fine particle pollution issued by the agency.

Scientific studies have linked fine particle pollution exposure to numerous health problems as well as environmental damage. The new regulations, which address airborne particles less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in diameter, revise the standard by lowering the level of fine particles to 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter.

According to the agency, "Fewer than 10 counties, out of the more than 3,000 counties in the United States, will need to consider any local actions to reduce fine particle pollution in order to meet the new standard by 2020, as required by the Clean Air Act." Health benefits from the new regulations could amount to as much as $9 billion per year, while preventing up to 40,000 premature deaths by 2030. The const of implementing the regulations are expected to be no higher than $350 million.

No rational cost benefit analysis, however, is convincing enough to deter the US Chamber of Commerce from persisting in its battle on behalf of continuing the externalization of the costs of environmental damage. In a statement, the Chamber's Senior Vice President—Bill Kovacs, the same man who in 2009 pledged to mount "the Scopes monkey trial of the 21st century" in an effort to disprove climate science—said that implementation of the rule would have "devastating effects on local economies."

"EPA engaged in result-oriented rulemaking to justify the most restrictive air quality standards ever issued," Kovacs continued.

Norman Edelman, chief medical officer for the American Lung Association, stated, "By setting a more protective standard, the EPA is stating that we as a nation must protect the health of the public by cleaning up even more of this lethal pollutant."


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