Posted by: greeningwashington | March 3, 2009

Particulates Matter

The verdict is in: the Bush administration’s environmental regulations of fine air particulates like soot were too lax. Or, if you are the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit they were “contrary to law and unsupported by adequately reasoned decision-making.”



The EPA has been ordered to reevaluate standards for particulates under the Clean Air Act to which an EPA spokesperson replied this issue was “extremely important” to the EPA and the Obama administration.


Extremely important is right in light of the growing amount of scientific research that links the level of fine particulates to deaths or other serious health issues such as increased asthma in children.


A move to lower the exposure levels would work as one preventive healthcare solution. Certainly nothing negative can come from reducing the amount of pollutants that get trapped deep in our lungs?


Yet, there is not agreed upon level of exposure to harmful pollutants in the air. According to the New York Times, “in 2006, agency scientists and almost all the members of its Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council recommended that the standard for long-term exposure be lowered to 12 to 14 micrograms per cubic meter of air, from 15. But the agency’s administrator at the time, Stephen Johnson,  said there was “insufficient evidence” linking the particulates to health effects.”


The science is insufficient. Ah. Once again, the worn-out adage of the Republican Party — the party of anti-intellect and anti-science — was used to justify a whole slew of policy inaction. I am not surprised.


When it comes to human and health issues, global warming, or scientific research that could save people already living, the Bush administration blamed their inaction on the inconsistencies in science (let’s not forget cuts in funding).


When it comes to war, WMDs, or the destruction of an entire nation-state, the Bush administration seemed more than eager to rely on inadequate information.


The D.C. Court’s ruling on particulate matter coincides with the Supreme Court’s refusal to hear the Bush administration’s appeal regarding the regulation of harmful pollutants like mercury, lead, arsenic and other pollutants from coal-fired power plants.


The Obama administration must act and begin to regulate coal plant emissions for the benefit of the people not the industry.


Until next time.




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