Ceres calls for stronger federal standards to reduce dangerous particulate pollution that harms public health and the economy

Ceres urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today to adopt stronger standards for pollution from fine particulate matter, otherwise known as PM 2.5 or soot, than what the agency released in a proposed rule issued last month. 

Fine particulate matter is a harmful and deadly pollutant produced by fossil fuel power plants, vehicle emissions, and other industrial sources that causes significant health challenges. The Biden administration aims to reduce negative health impacts from particulate matter pollution with an updated standard. 

Ceres Senior Program Director of Climate and Energy Dan Bakal testified in front of EPA officials in support of stronger standards, making the business case for strong particulate standards and emphasizing that the proposed standard does not go far enough to protect public health, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. 

“PM 2.5 causes numerous health problems, such as increased infant mortality, cardiovascular disease, asthma and other respiratory issues, cognitive impairments, and premature death,” Bakal said. “As it stands, the proposed rule would continue to expose communities across the country to unsafe levels of air pollution.” 

Ceres also submitted a written letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan advocating for stronger standards on behalf of the Ceres BICEP Network, the nation’s leading coalition of companies committed to advocating for robust federal and state sustainability policy.  

Signed by Ceres Vice President of Government Relations Anne Kelly, the letter highlighted that a more aggressive standard would yield between $44 billion and $93 billion in economic benefits, much higher than the benefits of the EPA’s proposed standard. 

The letter also emphasized that companies are already moving to take advantage of the substantial tax incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, accelerating the shift to clean energy and clean transportation sources and making stronger standards even more feasible while yielding economic benefits. 

“Companies across the nation and from all industry sectors are making commitments to reduce their emissions and promote a sustainable path forward for people and the economy, and they need strong policy to support their efforts,” Kelly wrote. 

Both Ceres testimony and the letter from the Ceres BICEP Network called for the EPA’s annual PM 2.5 standard to be reduced from 12 µg/ m3 to 8 µg/ m3 and the 24-hour standard be reduced to 25 µg/ m3, which would align with the recommendations of the EPA’s own Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. The EPA is currently proposing an annual standard of 9-10 µg/ m3, and the agency has not proposed any adjustment to the 24-hour standard, which is currently 35 µg/ m3. 

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