Statement: Biden administration reins in deadly air pollution

Media Contacts
Lisa Frank

Executive Director, Environment America Research & Policy Center; Vice President and D.C. Director, The Public Interest Network

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a new rule on Wednesday to reduce soot pollution. Soot, also known as particulate matter, is one of the deadliest forms of air pollution since the small particles can easily enter people’s lungs and trigger asthma attacks, heart disease, lung disease and cancer. The EPA estimates that achieving the new standards will prevent up to 4,500 premature deaths and 800,000 cases of asthma symptoms per year. Last year, Americans submitted more than 500,000 comments to the EPA in support of stronger soot standards.

In the United States, the largest human-caused sources of soot pollution are fossil fuels – coal, oil and gas – burned for electricity and transportation. Since the government last updated its standards, new research has found there may be no safe amount of air pollution and the World Health Organization cut in half its guidelines for allowable particulate matter (soot) pollution. The final rule lowers allowable soot limits for annual exposure by 25%, although it leaves the 24-hour limit unchanged, allowing for temporary pollution spikes.

In response to the new rule, Lisa Frank, executive director of Environment America Research & Policy Center’s Washington Office, released the following statement:

“Air pollution used to be the price we had to pay to heat our homes, commute or produce goods by burning coal, oil and gas. Thankfully, in the rapidly accelerating renewable energy era, that’s no longer the case. These soot standards will save lives, clear our skies and alleviate the burden of asthma and other illnesses. That’s something all Americans should celebrate.”

Andre Delattre, the senior vice president and chief operating officer for program for U.S. PIRG Education Fund said:

“For too many Americans, the very air we breathe can make us sick. This is a problem we can choose to solve. This announcement is a welcome step toward a healthier future. We thank President Biden and the EPA for heeding the science and public calls for cleaner air and finalizing strong limits on soot.”