Friday, February 03, 2006

White House tampered with EPA particle pollution plan

EPA’s science advisors will meet this afternoon in North Carolina to discuss the EPA’s recent proposed particle pollution standard – a proposal that has drawn tons of criticism because it was weaker than the science advisors had recommended.

There may be some interesting fireworks. Both the California EPA and the American Lung Association plan to note that the White House Office of Management and Budget tampered with the preamble of EPA’s proposal to cast doubt on the scientific need for tougher standards. See excerpts below.

These observations underscore the concerns we have noted that real science has been contaminated by political science.

In other testimony, Northeastern states will point out that better standards, supported by science, would protect more people from particle pollution.

Here are a few quick excerpts of prepared testimony:

California EPA: Notes that the White House Office of Management and Budget made last-minute insertions to the proposal to cast doubt on the science. “After years of vetting the science by CASAC in an open forum, the last minute addition of edits and opinions by OMB and others circumvents the entire peer review process,” notes Bart Ostro, Chief of California EPA’s Air Pollution Epidemiology Unit. “Many of the statements [inserted by the White House] overstate uncertainty and misrepresent the scientific consensus.”

American Lung Association: “Suddenly, in the preamble, we are seeing language inserted by the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that distorts the staff scientists’ and this committee’s interpretations of key scientific studies. This language is inconsistent with the conclusions of the Criteria Document and Staff Paper which have been thoroughly vetted by this Committee… Please stick to your guns. Lowering the annual fine particle standard as recommended by this Committee is vitally important. Any flipflopping will impair the credibility of this Committee in this and future reviews.”

Northeastern States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM): “EPA has the option to more than double the number of people in the U.S. protected by PM2.5 standards if it chooses to follow CASAC’s recommendations for an annual standard of either 13 or 14 μg/m3. This number could be considerably larger were the Administrator to propose even more stringent 24-hr and annual standards recommended by EPA staff.” [As you may know, Northeastern states have urged EPA to set a much tougher standard of 12 annual/30 daily. For more, contact NESCAUM’s Paul Miller at 617 259-2075.]

Environmental Defense: Notes recent science underscores the need for a tougher annual particle standard, and also rebukes EPA for exempting “rural” areas from bigger-particle standards – in fact, proposing not even to measure such pollution there: “EPA’s monitoring rule thus severely impairs the objective of increasing understanding of the level, size distribution and composition of coarse PM in rural areas and small to mid-size communities… we are deeply concerned that EPA’s proposal offers a blanket exemption to the agriculture and mining industries”


The California, NESCAUM and Environmental Defense presentations are at http://www.epa.gov/sab/panels/casacpmpanel.html

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