Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Federal appeals court: Bush blew it on particle soot decision

In a stunning rebuke to the former Bush administration, a federal appeals court today said the EPA had acted illegally in setting weak national clean air standards for particle soot.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ordered the EPA to go back to the drawing board and set standards based on science.

Those of you who followed this issue will remember that Those of you who followed this case may recall that the EPA ignored the advice of the vast majority of the agency’s science advisers and set a weak standard based on political science, not real science. The Bush administration tried, illegally and covertly, to keep the costs down for its big polluting financial contributors.

In the process, it left many millions of Americans exposed to the prospect of disease and premature death.

This is a real chance for the EPA to get it right, and to set standards that are truly based on the need to protect people’s health.

Here is the decision: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/common/opinions/200902/06-1410-1166572.pdf

Excerpts from the decision:

Because the agency promulgated standards for fine particulate matter that were,
in several respects, contrary to law and unsupported by adequately reasoned
decisionmaking, we grant the petitions for review in part and remand those
standards to the agency for further proceedings….

The EPA failed to explain adequately why an annual level of 15 μg/m3 is “requisite to protect the public health,” including the health of vulnerable subpopulations,
while providing “an adequate margin of safety.” 42 U.S.C. §
7409(b)(1).

In Part III we grant in full the petition for review of
the secondary NAAQS for fine PM brought by the environmental groups and remand them to the EPA for reconsideration. The EPA unreasonably concluded that the
NAAQS are adequate to protect the public welfare from adverse effects on
visibility.

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