Only six months ago, the Biden administration rightfully declined to revise the ozone standards in part because it wanted to be able to consider the newest science and do a full review of the standards. Today, by making the primary annual standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) more stringent, the EPA has decided that using the best science and doing a proper review for PM2.5 is unwarranted.
This move to tighten the standards is also premature. For criterial pollutants like PM2.5, the EPA must review and, if appropriate, revise the standards every five years. Instead of following this timeline created by Congress, the EPA, right near the start of the Biden administration, decided to reconsider the final rule finalized in December, 2020 that retained the existing PM2.5 standards. This 2020 decision was made after an extensive process and based in part on the advice of the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC).
Before the EPA decided to reconsider the 2020 final rule, EPA Administrator Michael Regan dismissed all of the advisers from CASAC as well as from another legally required panel, the Science Advisory Board. The agency then filled these panels with its desired members. This shocking and unprecedented move is yet further evidence that the agency is not focused on sound science but achieving its desired policy outcomes.
This premature and poorly considered decision is also another example of the Biden administration wanting to support the most extreme environmental policies despite the tradeoffs and costs, including how it will hurt the financial well-being of American families. It’s also being made as the United States has some of the lowest particulate matter levels in the world.
When the EPA decided to retain the standards in 2020, it explained that US particulate matter levels are “approximately five times below the global average, six times below Chinese levels, and 20% lower than France, Germany, and Great Britain.” Further, based on EPA’s own data, from 2000-2022, average PM2.5 concentration levels decreased by 42%.
Today is a bad day for sound science, scientific integrity, and more importantly, the American people.