“Air Pollution: Amid Disagreement, Panel Sticks With Soot Status Quo”

“CARY, N.C. — EPA is poised to leave its national soot standards unchanged after a fractured advisory panel yesterday formally opted to recommend the status quo.

While career EPA staff had tentatively concluded that the annual exposure benchmark is too weak to prevent thousands of premature deaths, a majority on the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee found otherwise.

The evidence does not “reasonably call into question” its public health protection, they wrote in a draft letter that — after incorporating some newly adopted changes — will go to agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.

Although the final call on the soot standards rests with Wheeler, he is seen as unlikely to buck the recommendations of the seven-member committee, made up mostly of his appointees. Under an accelerated schedule, EPA plans to issue a proposed rule reflecting Wheeler's decision by next April; the final version is supposed to be in place by the following December.”

Sean Reilly reports for Greenwire December 4, 2019.