March 30, 2018
Three required scientific reviews for federally regulated criteria air pollutants are on hold due to EPA delays and Administrator Scott Pruitt’s November shake-up of the external air quality science board that advises the agency, according to March 15, 2018 Bloomberg Environment report.
Not only is EPA behind in giving the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) the review documents underpinning its air pollution standards that panel members evaluate independently of the agency, the board still lacks a functioning chair.
Delays could put off potentially costly regulatory requirements for industries to meet.
The committee and review panels are expected to convene about once a month, but members haven’t met since September, when they discussed the last stages of their review of sulfur dioxide, an air pollutant that contributes to respiratory diseases and the formation of particulate matter.
“We could have closed that out by now,” Cristopher Frey, an environmental engineering professor at North Carolina State University who chaired the committee between 2012 and 2015, told Bloomberg.
The EPA is responsible for updating six criteria air pollutant standards every five years under the Clean Air Act – carbon monoxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, lead and ozone. Written into the CASAC charter is the expectation that the board and its subgroups meet about once every four weeks or 12 to 15 times a year.
CASAC review panels are also waiting for documents from the EPA so they can assess the standards for fine particulate matter (PM 2.5) – microscopic pollutants found in nature and formed during combustion – as well as standards for the ambient oxides of nitrogen and sulfur.
The clean air advisory board reviews emerging science and recommends whether the six existing standards for air pollutants must be updated to protect public health. The administrator then sets the standards, which determine the extent to which emitters must control their pollution especially in areas that don’t meet air quality standards.
What this means to you
Three required scientific reviews for federally regulated criteria air pollutants are on hold due to EPA delays. Not only is EPA behind in giving the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee the review documents it requires, the board still lacks a functioning chair.
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