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Feb. 12, 2024

New EPA Air Quality Standard Would Restrict Industrial Growth

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released new, stricter air quality standards that business advocacy organizations say will restrict industrial growth in areas covering nearly 40 percent of the U.S. population.

The updated National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for Particulate Matter set the annual PM2.5 standard at 9.0 micrograms per cubic meter, a move the EPA says will provide increased public health protection. The previous standard was 12 micrograms per cubic meter, which was already far lower than the European Union standard of 25 micrograms per cubic meter.

A letter to the White House from business association leaders last October stated that American businesses have already made major progress in reducing PM2.5 emissions, reducing concentrations by 42 percent since 2000. Further, the letter pointed out that 84 percent of PM2.5 emissions come from fires, road dust, agriculture and other nonpoint sources that are difficult to control. If implemented, the new standard is expected to put 569 counties out of compliance, which would deter industrial companies from investing in those areas.

“Tightening the NAAQS PM2.5 standard will grind permits to a halt for a large portion of our country,” said Marty Durbin, senior vice president for policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “EPA should have kept the prior standard in place and focused on strategies to address non-industrial emissions instead of punishing counties and the private sector for situations largely out of their control.”

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