Washington Update

New EPA Air Quality Standard
Labeled an Overreach by ARTBA

WASHINGTON — The Biden-Harris Administration on Feb. 7 finalized a significantly stronger air quality standard that officials say will better protect America’s families, workers and communities from the dangerous and costly health effects of fine particle pollution, also known as soot.

By strengthening the annual health-based national ambient air quality standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) from a level of 12 micrograms per cubic meter to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s updated standard will save lives — preventing up to 4,500 premature deaths and 290,000 lost workdays, yielding up to $46 billion in net health benefits in 2032. For every $1 spent from this action, there could be as much as $77 in human health benefits in 2032.

However, the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) disagrees with the action to modify air quality standard, which it claims will put nearly 600 counties out of step with federal rules and at risk of losing their federal highway funding. That is a 47% increase in the number of jurisdictions now out of attainment.

ARTBA President and CEO Dave Bauer stated, “Just because a regulation exists does not mean it must be increased. Current standards are working – PM emissions have dropped 37% in the past 20 years. Not only is EPA’s final rule unnecessary, it would also make it harder for many state and local transportation agencies to access 2021 bipartisan infrastructure law funds aimed at reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.”

In announcing the new standard, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said, “This final air quality standard will save lives and make all people healthier, especially within America’s most vulnerable and overburdened communities. Cleaner air means that our children have brighter futures, and people can live more productive and active lives, improving our ability to grow and develop as a nation.

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