Comments on National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter

Comments on National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter

August 31, 2012

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1. A Secondary NAAQS for Visibility Either Conflates or Conflicts with the Regional Haze Program; If the Latter, Then Serious Federalism Concerns Are Raised

In the proposed rule, EPA repeatedly discusses how a revised secondary NAAQS for fine particulate matter would work “in conjunction” with the Regional Haze Program. Yet this cannot be true. In fact, a revised secondary NAAQS necessarily would either conflate or clash with the Regional Haze Program. And where a secondary NAAQS conflicts with the Regional Haze Program, it would raise serious concerns.

Under the Regional Haze Program, States must submit state implementation plans that include “emission limits, schedules of compliance and other measures as may be necessary to make reasonable progress toward meeting the national goal.” The “national goal” is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as “natural visibility conditions by the year 2064.” All fifty States are subject to the Regional Haze Program.

Due to its comprehensive purpose (pristine air by 2064) and participation (all 50 States are subject), the Regional Haze Program is “more protective than a secondary NAAQS,” as EPA notes in the proposed rule. This raises the question: How is it possible for the Regional Haze Program, which is “more protective than a secondary NAAQS,” to protect visibility at a level that is insufficiently “requisite to protect the public welfare” (the statutory purpose of a secondary NAAQS), and thereby necessitate the need for a secondary NAAQS?