June 2, 2014
The Obama administration on 9 May 2014 scored its third major legal victory on air pollution in less than month when a federal appeals court rejected an industry challenge to its latest health standards for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5), or soot, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
The unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel of the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was within its discretion in 2012 when it tightened limits on lung-damaging soot. The National Assn. of Manufacturers filed a legal challenge to the regulations last year, saying the agency had overreached and would crush businesses’ plans for growth.
The 11-page decision rejected industry complaints and found that the EPA had acted reasonably and within its bounds when it adopted stricter nationwide standards for fine particulate matter. The tiny, chemical-laden particles and liquid droplets are emitted by power plants, diesel engines, refineries and factories.
The EPA issued a statement calling the decision “a resounding victory for public health and a key component of EPA and State efforts to ensure all Americans have clean air to breathe.”
Based on scientific studies, the EPA tightened annual limits on fine particle pollution from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter and set new requirements for dozens of major cities to install air quality monitors to test for the pollutants near busy roadways. The ruling is the Obama administration’s third favorable court decision on its air quality regulations since mid-April.
The fine particle air quality standard is one of EPA’s most important, because so many major stationary sources as well as motor vehicles are subject to it, particularly power plants. The regulation at issue amounts to a significant tightening of the standard, with major public health and public welfare implications.
John Walke, clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which intervened in the case to defend the EPA’s soot standards, said the Obama administration is building a strong record of air pollution rules that will stand up to legal scrutiny. “In all of these cases the courts have found that EPA acted reasonably, consistent with the science and the law,” Walke said, noting that the decision marks the fifth time industry groups have lost legal challenges to Obama administration air quality standards for air pollution, including ozone, lead, acid rain-generating sulfur dioxide and smog-forming nitrogen oxides.
The National Assn. of Manufacturers said it was reviewing the decision and considering future options.
What this means to you
The EPA has cleared a significant legal hurdle in its effort to lower PM 2.5 limits from 15 to 12 micrograms per cubic meter as a federal appeals court unanimously rejected a legal challenge.
MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH to learn how a diesel particulate filter (DPF) combined with a diesel oxidation catalyst (DOC) can control your PM 2.5 emissions.