The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Jan. 7 proposed stricter smog standards that would replace the Bush administration’s broader 2008 national smog regulations, complying with scientific recommendations. The new smog restrictions would reduce the amount of smog emissions to between 0.060 and 0.070 parts per million (ppm) from the previous 0.075 ppm. The EPA estimates that these changes will help reduce the effects of climate change and improve public health, saving the US between $13 billion and $100 billion in health care costs.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson defended the tighter restrictions:
EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face. Smog in the air we breathe poses a very serious health threat, especially to children and individuals suffering from asthma and lung disease. It dirties our air, clouds our cities, and drives up our health care costs across the country. Using the best science to strengthen these standards is a long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.
The proposed regulations face much criticism from industry groups, such as coal, oil, and natural gas companies, that will have to spend billions of dollars to comply with the new standards. The EPA will hold three nationwide public hearings in early February and will receive public comment on the proposed rule for 60 days before any new regulations become official.
The EPA announced in September that it would reconsider national smog standards to ensure accuracy and public health. The decision to review the smog standards came in response to a legal challenge filed by Earthjustice on behalf of several environmental organizations. The suit alleged that the EPA ignored the input of top scientists before issuing its smog regulations in March 2008. The EPA has the power to monitor ozone levels under the Clean Air Act. Ground-level ozone, referred to as smog, has been linked to respiratory health issues and adverse effects on the environment. (Jurist, Jan. 7)
See our last post on the struggle for the atmosphere.