Coalition Writes Against Air Quality Regulations


A coalition of industry groups have reportedly written a letter asking President Joe Biden’s administration to rescind its recent proposal to tighten air-quality standards, stating that it could potentially harm the economy.

According to the report from Fox News, the coalition is led by the Chamber of Commerce and joined by 33 other groups, including the American Road & Transportation Builders Association,the Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Associated General Contractors of America.

Standard Proposal Background

In January, the EPA announced a proposal to strengthen key national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for fine particles, or soot, to protect communities from pollution. 

These particles, also known as PM2.5, can penetrate deep into the lungs and can result in serious health effects that include asthma attacks, heart attacks and premature death. According to the EPA, these particles may be emitted directly from sources such as construction sites, unpaved roads, fields, smokestacks or fires.

Other particles reportedly form in the atmosphere as a result of complex reactions of chemicals such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, which are pollutants emitted from power plants, industrial facilities and vehicles.

In a news release, the EPA reported that it would specifically take comment on strengthening the primary health-based annual PM2.5 standard from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to a level between nine and 10 micrograms per cubic meter, reflecting the latest health data and scientific evidence.

Additionally, the Agency was also taking comments on the full range (between eight and 11 micrograms per cubic meter) included in the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee’s (CASAC) latest report.

Based on thousands of new scientific studies demonstrating the dangers of soot exposure from its last review of the PM NAAQS in 2012, the EPA explained that strengthening the primary annual PM2.5 standard was expected to address disparities and would result in significant public health benefits.

If finalized, the Agency anticipated that a strengthened primary annual PM2.5 standard at a level of nine micrograms per cubic meter, the lower end of the proposed range, would:

  • Prevent up to 4,200 premature deaths per year;
  • Prevent up to 270,000 lost workdays per year; and
  • Would result in as much as $43 billion in net health benefits in 2032.

The EPA also reportedly proposed to revise other aspects related to the PM standards, such as monitoring requirements and the Air Quality Index. They also proposed  to retain the primary 24-hour PM2.5 standard of 35 micrograms per cubic meter, while taking comment on revising this level to as low as 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

The Agency planned to accept public comment for 60 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register. A virtual public hearing will also be conducted over several days, with the hearing beginning at 11 a.m. ET and concluding at 7 p.m. ET each day after publication.

About the Letter

The coalition reportedly penned its letter on Sept. 7 and sent it to the EPA’s Administrator Michael Regan, warning about the consequences of the proposed regulations.

"Lowering standards further would harm America’s ability to revitalize our supply chains and manufacturing, as well as to restore and revitalize our nation’s infrastructure," the groups stated in the letter. "In addition, the current reconsideration is discretionary and not required by the Clean Air Act as the existing standards were just reviewed in 2020." 

"The inability to comply with these near-background level standards could lead to consequences such as onerous permitting requirements that would freeze manufacturing and supply chain investments, as well as other unintended consequences.”

According to the report, PM2.5 is a fine particulate matter that is created through industrial processes. Despite this, industry has reportedly argued in the past that the current standards of 12 micrograms per cubic meter are stringent enough and manufacturers have worked to improve technology, lowering emissions in recent years.

"America’s air continues to improve," the coalition added. "The business community has worked with EPA and its state partners to lower fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions by 42 percent since 2000 and is making significant progress even with the steady growth in the U.S. economy, population, and energy use."

The letter stated that over 84% of PM2.5 emissions are produced from non-point sources like fires and unpaved roads. Industrial sources and power plants, which are already heavily regulated, are reportedly the sources of 16% of such emissions.

The groups also mentioned that the regulations could slow down domestic investments in industrial activities like mining and processing of critical minerals "for priorities like renewable energy, semiconductor manufacturing, and energy development for us and our allies."

Additionally, another study from May was reportedly conducted by Oxford Economics and commissioned by NAM and concluded that the regulations could damage between $162.4 and $197.4 billion of economic activity while putting 852,100 to 973,900 current jobs at risk.

"Improving air quality in the U.S. is a top priority for manufacturers, and we’ve worked for years to make progress in delivering some of the cleanest manufacturing processes in the world," NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons stated.

"We need to let manufacturers do what they do best: innovate and deploy modern technologies to protect the environment, while creating jobs and strengthening the economy."

Groups signing the letter included the Agricultural Retailers Association; The Aluminum Association; American Chemistry Council; American Coke and Coal Chemicals Institute; American Council for Capital Formation; American Exploration & Production Council; American Farm Bureau Federation; American Forest & Paper Association; American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers; and American Iron and Steel Institute.

The EPA did has not yet reportedly responded to a request for comment.


Tagged categories: Air pollution control; Air quality; American Road & Trans Builders Assn (ARTBA); Associated Builders and Contractors; Associated Builders and Contractors Inc. (ABC); Associated General Contractors; Associated General Contractors (AGC); Emissions; Environmental Control; Environmental Controls; Environmental Protection; Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); Government; Health and safety; NA; North America; President Biden; Program/Project Management; Quality Control; Regulations; Safety

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