Thursday, May 31, 2012

Federal judge orders EPA to propose particle soot standards by June 7

[Thanks to Bloomberg BNA for breaking this news]:

Today a federal judge ordered the EPA to sign a proposed rule setting air pollution standards for particle soot by June 7.

This is a big victory for clean air. Every day of delay means more people get sick and die.

The EPA has been sitting on this for months. It sent a proposal to OMB for review just this week under pressure from lawsuits by state, health and environmental groups.

EPA missed a October 2011 statutory deadline to revise the particulate matter national ambient air quality standards, and Judge Robert Wilkins of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said the agency has not provided a reasonable explanation as to why the rulemaking process has taken so long and why the agency needs additional time.

Advocacy groups and 11 states, including New York and California, have asked the court to compel EPA to review the particulate matter standards.
Wilkins did not set a deadline by which EPA must issue a final rule. He said he first wants to hear from Gina McCarthy, EPA assistant administrator for air and radiation; a hearing has been scheduled for 11 a.m. on June 11.

“The EPA has some explaining to do,” Wilkins said.

EPA has said it needs until August 2013 to finalize the rule, but the plaintiffs have asked the court to order the agency to issue the final rule in December.

The judge also said EPA must seek expedited publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register and accept public comments on the rule for nine weeks.
EPA revised the particulate matter standards most recently in 2006. The annual standard for fine particulate matter is 15 micrograms per cubic meter of air, and the daily standard is 35 micrograms per cubic meter. The decision was controversial to say the least because EPA’s science advisers had recommended a tougher annual standard.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Is the Environmental Council of the States Becoming a Too Cozy with Big Polluters?

Next week at the posh Hotel Monaco in D.C., state environmental officials from around the country will gather to discuss such topics as "States and U.S. EPA Working Together – Delivering Environmental Protection in an Era of Constrained Resources" and "Electric Reliability and Public Health – Are They Mutually Exclusive?" See meeting agenda at http://www.ecos.org/section/events/?id=4622

It is a regular meeting of the group known as the Environmental Council of the States, or ECOS, which describes its reason for existence as follows:

http://www.ecos.org/section/_aboutecos

The purpose of ECOS is to improve the capability of state environmental agencies and their leaders to protect and improve human health and the environment of the United States of America.

Our belief is that state government agencies are the keys to delivering environmental protection afforded by both federal and state law. Further, we believe that ECOS plays a critical role in facilitating a quality relationship between federal and state agencies in the fulfillment of that mission. That role is defined as:

Articulate, advocate, preserve and champion the role of the states in environmental management; and
Provide for the exchange of ideas, views and experiences among states and with others; and
Foster cooperation and coordination in environmental management; and
Articulate state positions to Congress, federal agencies, and the public on environmental issues.

Given that we are in the middle of a Presidential campaign and one of the candidates calls for "reducing the size and reach of the federal government, and returning power to the states and the people" http://www.mittromney.com/collection/smaller-smarter-simpler-government it might be worth taking a moment to examine this key state group.

Let's start by looking at the ECOS meeting's high-profile polluter sponsors (euphemistically described as "environmental supporters") which include American Chemistry Council, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, Chesapeake Energy Corporation, Edison Electric Institute, NEDA/CAP and Smithfield Foods, Inc. (If you've never heard of NEDA-CAP, by the way, please note http://nedacap.org/ This is a polluter group whose members include ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.)

It might be fair to ask if ECOS is becoming a little too cozy with big polluters -- or at the least providing a vehicle for polluters to influence both federal and state environmental policy.

One of the key events on the ECOS agenda: Sponsored Wine and Hors d’Oeuvre Reception for State Officials and Sponsors

Beyond pouring the wine, do these corporate sponsors have any influence here?

Since ECOS notes one of its main functions is to communicate with Congress and federal agencies, it is interesting to peruse recent ECOS letters to Congress and the US EPA http://www.ecos.org/section/policy/letters

Some of these reflect the understandable and self-serving state mantra of "give us more money," but consider the March 2, 2012 letter urging EPA to contest environmentalists attempts to speed up final rules on coal waste. Or an earlier letter supporting industry-friendly legislation on coal waste. In another move that dovetails with industry concerns, ECOS enthusiastically embraced an Obama plan to review and "reform" existing regulations. And its one thought on EPA's critical mercury/toxics standards for power plants was to complain about possible costs to states.

The recent ECOS report, The States View of the Air Quality http://www.ecos.org/files/4769_file_THE_STATE_VIEW_OF_THE_AIR_040412.pdf
is a not-very-subtle shot at the American Lung Association's State of the Air Report. The state rejoinder, whose theme is that things really aren't so bad, could have been penned by the Edison Electric Institute or the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricty. (The report was written by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, whose assistant commissioner formerly was a lobbyist for Peabody Coal Company. http://www.indystar.com/article/20090511/NEWS05/905110352/Former-coal-lobbyist-takes-key-IDEM-post )

Yet another apparent sign of industry influence: in next week's panel discussion of "electric reliability and public health" there is NO representative from the public health community, though the panel includes representatives from sponsors Edison Electric Institute and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

The panel does include EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy and former EPA Regional Administrator Mary Gade, who won our admiration for resigning when Bush administration bigwigs apparently tried to block enforcement against Dow Chemical Company http://www.mindfully.org/Reform/2008/Gade-EPA-Dow3may08.htm

Still, the absence on the panel of someone from the American Lung Association or the Natural Resources Defense Council is pretty glaring.

Then again, health groups aren't paying for the event.






Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Coal lobby and its ties to coal-state rebellion and the National Association of Dirty Air Agencies

According to testimonials on its web site, the consulting firm Stateside Associates has been a "great resource" for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity in its efforts to "work with the Governors and the State Environmental Commissioners."

http://www.stateside.com/government-affairs-consulting-testimonials.php

“The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCCE) has been a client of Stateside for over ten years. We rely on their expertise to help us work with the Governors and the State Environmental Commissioners. But in addition to that work, Stateside has proven a great resource for ACCCE because of their breadth of knowledge and experience and their ability to add value and perspective over the years to many parts of our State Government Affairs efforts.”

Mark Ourada
Vice President, External Affairs
American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity


One manifestation of this, according to today's Politico Pro, was a recent dinner in Austin sponsored by Stateside Associates. At that dinner, Scott Nally, head of the Ohio EPA, tried to enlist other states to join his efforts to form a new pro-industry splinter group of state environmental officials to counter the long-time effective voice of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies. Noted Politico:

Nally made a pitch in person to some state officials at a dinner in Austin, Texas, during the Environmental Council of the States conference in March. The dinner was sponsored by Stateside Associates — a firm that represents industry groups such as the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity and the National Electrical Manufacturers Association.

Nally has followed that up with a memo (below) asking like-minded states (including Texas) to come up with a new name for his organization.

Could anything be more appropriate than the National Association of Dirty Air Agencies, or NADAA?

**
Interoffice Memo

To: State Colleagues
From: Scott J. Nally, Director, OhioEPA
Date: May 7, 2012
Re: New National Air Quality Organization


Thank you to those states that could participate on the call last Friday. There will be a number of activities taking place to organize, create, and launch the new national air quality organization. Here is a summary of the next steps that will be occurring over the next few weeks:

1. Finalize a name for the organization. We will send out a note later today asking for suggestions, then later conduct a round or two of voting and go forward with a final selection.

2. Finalize the Request for Proposals (RFP) and the list of entities to receive the RFP package. The goal is to issue the RFP by the end of the month of May.

3. Finalize the by-laws of the organization.

4. Formally file the papers of incorporation in one of the member states.

5. Texas has volunteered to begin to coordinate the identification of technical issues that are of concern to our agencies.

I recognize that all of you receive many emails each day, but you will be copied on these early emails so that you can stay abreast of
developments. If you have not provided a technical contact name, please do so that we can be sure that your state is active and has a
voice in the development and operation of this new group.

Again, thanks for your continued support for this new organization.





Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Watch a U.S. senator in action, fronting for a special interest

This sort of thing happens all the time in D.C., though it is not always quite so blatant.

Watch a U.S. senator in action, fronting for a special interest http://bit.ly/MkTHlm at about 86:40 into the webcast.

In this case, it is Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), fronting for the cruise line industry at an appropriations hearing on the U.S. EPA's budget.

With talking points obviously written by lobbyists for cruise line companies, Murkowski grilled EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson on upcoming lower-sulfur fuel standards for ocean-going ships within a 200-mile zone of the U.S. coast. EPA has concluded that these standards could prevent up to 31,000 premature deaths a year. http://www.epa.gov/otaq/regs/nonroad/marine/ci/420f09075.htm

The cruise ship industry is lobbying hard to weaken the standards. They are floating what Murkowski euphemistically called "an alternative compliance mechanism" that EPA says would lead to more emissions and more health damage.

EPA has already told this to Murkowski in a letter, but she doggedly soldiers on, trying to pressure Jackson to "give some consideration" to the industry approach.

Jackson responded politely but didn't roll over.

But we expect the cruise ship industry to continue pressing its case in Congress. Could a budget "rider" on this be far away??

House panel prepares to vote on big oil industry wish list -- the GASP Act. Where is the White House on this?

Rarely does an industry wish list stand out in such stark terms.

But so it is with the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which begins debate this afternoon on what it euphemistically refers to as the “Gasoline Regulations Act of 2012” (H.R. 4471) http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/news/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=9521

We believe this should be called the “GASP Act” – Gutting Air Standards Protections.

However you may want to brand it, there is no doubt this is the wish list of big oil, as advanced by the American Petroleum Institute. Among its key features: blocking any EPA effort to reduce the sulfur content of gasoline (the so-called “Tier 3” plan) ; and reversing four decades of the Clean Air Act – as well as a unanimous Supreme Court decision – by requiring that future national standards for ozone undergo a cost test.

Just compare the contents of this legislation with the oil agenda as outlined in two documents: one released yesterday and for the DNC and RNC platform committees and another to EPA from April 2011, which was re-released on May 10.

Yesterday’s document http://api.org/news-and-media/news/newsitems/2012/may-2012/api-announces-energy-report-for-platform-committees.aspx
specifically assails the as-yet-unveiled EPA “Tier 3” proposal for cleaner cars and cleaner, low-sulfur gas. From the report:

EPA’s Tier 3 vehicle emission proposal is being promulgated before there is a full airing of the impacts, costs and benefits of further reductions of sulfur and vapor pressure in gasoline. According to an independent analysis conducted by Baker & O’Brien, Inc., new Tier 3 requirements could boost the cost of making gasoline by up to 25 cents per gallon, close up to seven U.S. refineries, and actually increase refinery carbon dioxide emissions.

This is such a duplicitous paragraph that no legislation should be based on it. It refers to an analysis performed of something EPA does not intend to propose. API itself has acknowledged this cost projection is way overblown. But facts have given way to propaganda.

The second document http://api.org/news-and-media/news/newsitems/2012/may-2012/api-white-house-should-add-ghg-tieriii-pm-naaqs-to-list-of-unnecessary-costly-regulations.aspx
highlights, among other items, API desire to impose a cost test on national ozone standards.

This committee vote appears to be greased. But there are more battles ahead – including possible efforts to stick elements of the oil industry wish list into spending or other “must pass” legislation.

So where is the White House on this? There have been several very interesting pieces in the past week (starting, I believe, with National Journal) on the Obama White House’s apparently cozy connection to big oil. White House silence on the GASP Act would unfortunately appear to confirm that cozy connection.



Friday, May 11, 2012

Lung and National Parks Assns to federal court: order EPA to get off the dime and set new fine particle soot standard

For Immediate Release: May 11, 2012
Contact:
Paul Cort, Earthjustice, 415-217-2077
Mary Havell, American Lung Association, 202-715-3459
Mark Wenzler, NPCA, 202-454-3335
Groups Seek Faster Schedule for EPA Soot Rule
35,000 lives a year at stake

Washington, D.C.— The American Lung Association and National Parks Conservation Association today requested the federal court to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to comply with the Clean Air Act and complete the overdue review of the air pollution health standard for particulate matter also known as soot. Earthjustice filed the action on behalf of the two organizations.

The brief filed today in federal district court for the District of Columbia asks the court to require the EPA to adopt final standards no later than December 14, 2012, eight months sooner than the agency had requested. The brief also asks the court to require EPA to sign a proposal on the new standards within 30 days of the court’s decision.

In its filing with the court last week, EPA admitted that it had violated the Clean Air Act’s October 12, 2011, deadline but claimed it would now need until August 15, 2013, to adopt new standards—a date that is 22 months past the legal deadline. Recent health data prepared for Earthjustice, the American Lung Association and the Clean Air Task Force—summarized in the report Sick of Soot—demonstrates that with updated standards, more than 35,000 premature deaths could be prevented every year and health care costs could be reduced by $280 billion.

“EPA cannot ignore the facts: scientists and medical experts confirm that the current standards fail to protect public health,” said Janice Nolen of the American Lung Association. “The EPA doesn't need more time to study the issue—it needs to comply with the law.”

“The Obama Administration must stop playing politics with public health,” said Earthjustice attorney Paul Cort. “Real people are going to pay for more delay, very possibly with their lives.”

“In spite of a 35-year directive from Congress to restore America’s National Parks and wilderness areas to pristine air quality, EPA continues to slow-walk measures like stronger fine particle soot standards that could bring cleaner, healthier air to our most treasured places,” said Mark Wenzler of the National Parks Conservation Association.

The American Lung Association and the National Parks Conservation Association, along with a large group of states, filed legal action to force EPA to review the current, weak particulate matter standards. The current standards, adopted in 2006, were found to be deficient in 2009 in a victory won by these same groups, also then represented by Earthjustice.

Airborne particulate matter is comprised of tiny particles of smoke, metals and other chemical compounds emitted from sources like power plants, factories and diesel trucks. Scientists say particulate matter, which can penetrate deep into our lungs, is one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution. Particulate matter is also responsible for much of the haze that clouds many of our cities and parklands.


Tuesday, May 08, 2012

EPA suggests it may propose new particle soot standard this year... but would the White House really permit them to do that before the election?

[filed May 4, 2012]

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA


AMERICAN LUNG ASSOCIATION and NATIONAL PARKS CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION,


Plaintiffs, v.
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, and LISA JACKSON, Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency,


Defendants.

)
)
)
)
) Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-00243-
) RLW
) (J udge Robert L. Wilkins)
)
)

)
STATE OF NEW YORK, et al., )
)
Plaintiffs, )
)
v. ) Civil Action No. 1:12-cv-00531
) (consolidated) LISA P. JACKSON, as Administrator of the)
Environmental Protection Agency, and the ) UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL ) PROTECTION AGENCY, )
)
Defendants. )

-------------------------- )



DECLARATION OF REGINA MCCARTHY

I, Regina McCarthy, declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the


United States of America that the following is true and correct to the best of my



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knowledge, information, and belief, and is based on my own personal knowledge or on information contained in the records of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or supplied to me by EPA employees under my supervtston.

1. I am the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation at EPA, a position that I have held since June 2009. The Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) is the EPA office that develops national programs, technical policies, and regulations for controlling air pollution. OAR's assignments include the protection of public health and welfare, pollution prevention and energy efficiency, air quality, industrial air pollution, pollution from vehicles and engines, acid rain, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change.

2. OAR is responsible for conducting rulemakings to adopt or revise National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) under section 109 of the Clean Air Act (CAA). 42 U.S.C. § 7409. My office also is responsible for either preparing or assisting in the preparation of the scientific and technical documents that the Administrator reviews in determining whether revisions to the NAAQS are appropriate. OAR provides assistance to the Administrator as she assesses the
body of evidence and proposes and takes final actions concerning decisions to retain or revise the NAAQS in light of the CAA's requirements.



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3. Under 42 U.S.C. § 7409(d), EPA must conduct review of each NAAQS, and the air quality criteria on which the NAAQS are based, at five year intervals. Accordingly, after promulgating the PM NAAQS in October 2006, EPA commenced the five year review cycle.

4. EPA has expended enormous effort in conducting this review. EPA initiated the current review of the air quality criteria for PM in June 2007 with a general call for information (72 FR 35462, June 28, 2007). In July 2007, EPA held two "kick-off' workshops on the primary (health-based) and secondary (welfare­ based) PM NAAQS, respectively (72 FR 34003 -04, June 20, 2007). These workshops provided an opportunity for a public discussion of the key policy­ relevant issues around which EPA would structure this PM NAAQS review and
the most meaningful new science that would be available to inform our understanding of these issues.

5. Based in part on the workshop discussions, EPA developed a draft Integrated Review Plan outlining the schedule, process, and key policy-relevant questions that would guide the evaluation of the air quality criteria for PM and the review of the primary and secondary PM NAAQS. On November 30, 2007, EPA held a consultation with the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Comm ittee (CASAC) on the draft Integrated Review Plan (72 FR 63177, November 8, 2007), which
included the opportunity for public comment. The fi nal Integrated Review Plan

3





incorporated comments from CASAC and from the public on the draft plan as well as input from senior Agency managers.

6. A major element in the process for reviewing the NAAQS is the development of an Integrated Science Assessment (previously termed a "Criteria Document"). This document provides an evaluation and integration of the policy­ relevant science, including key science judgments upon which the risk and exposure assessments build. As part of the process of preparing the PM Integrated Science Assessment, EPA's National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) hosted a peer review workshop in June 2008 on preliminary drafts of key Integrated Science Assessment chapters (73 FR 30391, May 27, 2008). The first external review draft Integrated Science Assessment (73 FR 77686, December 19,
2008) was reviewed by CASAC and the public at a meeting held in April 2009 (74


FR 2688, February 19, 2009). Based on comments ofCASAC and the public, NCEA prepared a second draft Integrated Science Assessment (74 FR 38185, July
31, 2009), which was reviewed by CASAC and the public at a meeting held on October 5 and 6, 2009 (74 FR 46586, September 10, 2009). Based on CASAC and public comments, NCEA prepared the final Integrated Science Assessment titled Integrated Science Assessment for Particulate Matter, December 2009 (74
FR 66353, December 15, 2009).





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7. The final Integrated Science Assessment consists of nine chapters and six annexes and comprises thousands of pages of material. Key chapters deal with issues of atmospheric chemistry, sources, and exposure of and to PM; dosimetry (deposition, translocation, clearance, and retention of particles and their constituents within the respiratory tract and extrapulmonary tissues) of PM; pathways and mode of action of PM; and evidence related to populations potentially susceptible to PM-related effects. Separate chapters are devoted to health effects of short- and long-term exposure to PM with summary sections that integrate the findings for health outcome categories. Welfare effects related to particles in the ambient air - primarily visibility impairment, effects on materials,
and climate interactions, are discussed in the final chapter of the Integrated Science Assessment. Annexes include detailed descriptions of the key studies discussed in the Integrated Science Assessment chapters.

8. Building upon the information presented in the PM Integrated Science Assessment, EPA prepared Risk and Exposure Assessments for both public health and welfare effects. In developing the Risk and Exposure Assessments for this PM NAAQS review, OAQPS released two planning documents: Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Scope and Methods Plan for Health Risk and Exposure Assessment and Particulate Matter NationaAmbient Air Quality Standards: Scope and Methods Plan for Urban Visibility Impact Assessment (74FR

5





11580, March 18, 2009). These planning documents outlined the scope and approaches that EPA staff planned to use in conducting quantitative assessments as well as key issues that would be addressed as part of the assessments. In designing and conducting the initial health risk and visibility impact assessments, the Agency considered CASAC comments on the Scope and Methods Plans made during an Apri12009 consultation (74 FR 7688, February 19, 2009) as well as public comments.

9. Two draft assessment documents, Risk Assessment to Support the Review of the PM Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standards: External Review Draft, September 2009 and Particulate Matter Urban-Focused Visibility Assessment- External Review Draft, September 2009 were reviewed by CASAC and the public at a meeting held on October 5 and 6, 2009(74 FR 46586, September 10, 2009). Based on CASAC and public comments, OAQPS staff revised these draft documents and released second draft assessment documents in
January and February 2010 (75 FR 4067, January 26, 2010) for CASAC and public review at a meeting held on March 10 and 11, 2010 (75 FR 8062, February 23,
2010). Based on CASAC and public comments on the second draft assessment documents, EPA revised these documents and released final assessment documents titled Quantitative Health Risk Assessment for Particulate Matter, June 2010
("Risk Assessment,") and Particulate Matter Urban-Focused Visibility Assessment


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-Final Document, July 2010 ("Visibility Assessment") (75 FR 39252, July 8,


2010).



10. The Risk Assessment (RA) estimates risk for: (1)all-cause, ischemic heart disease - related, cardiopulmonary- and lung cancer-related mortality associated with long-term PM2.5 exposure; (2) non-accidental, cardiovascular­ related, and respiratory-related mortality associated with short-term PM2.5
exposure; and (3) cardiovascular-related and respiratory-related hospital


admissions and asthma-related emergency department visits associated with short­ term PM2.5 exposure. TheRA interprets the risk estimates associated with simulating just meeting the current suite of standards and alternative standards, considering especially: (1) the importance of changes in annual mean PM25 concentrations for a specific study area in estimating changes in risks related to
both long- and short-term exposures associated with recent air quality conditions and air quality simulated to just meet the current suite ofPM25 standards and alternative suites of standards; (2) the ratio of peak-to-mean ambient PM2.5 concentrations in a study area; and (3) the spatial pattern of ambient PM2.5 reductions that result from using different approaches to simulate just meeting the current standard levels and alternative standard levels (i.e., rollback approaches).

11. The Visibility Assessment includes: (1) analyses of the factors


contributing to visibility impairment for selected urban areas, including PM species

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component contributions and variations in relative humidity, providing information useful for better characterizing regional differences; (2) analyses of air quality simulated to just meet the current PM2.5 standards as well as alternative standards using different combinations of the four elements of the NAAQS (indicator, averaging time, level and form); and (3) a reanalysis of public preference studies providing information useful for the selection of "target levels" for urban visibility protection.

12. Based on the scientific and technical information assessed in the Integrated Science Assessment and Risk and Exposure Assessments, EPA staff prepared a Policy Assessment. The Policy Assessment is intended to help 'bridge the gap' between the relevant scientific information and assessments and the judgments required of the Administrator in reaching decisions on the NAAQS. American Farm Bureau v. EPA, 559 F.3d at 516. The Policy Assessment is not a decision document; rather it presents EPA staff conclusions related to the broadest range of policy options that could be supported by the currently available information. A preliminary draft Policy Assessment was released in September
2009 for informational purposes and to facilitate discussion with CASAC at the October 5 and 6, 2009 meeting on the overall structure, areas of focus, and level of detail to be included in the Policy Assessment. CASAC's comments on this preliminary draft were considered in developing a first draft Policy Assessment (75
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FR 4067, January 26, 2010) that built upon the information presented and assessed in the final Integrated Science Assessment and second draft Risk and Exposure Assessments. The EPA presented an overview of the first draft Policy Assessment at a CASAC meeting on March 10, 2010 (75 FR 8062, February 23, 2010) and it was discussed during public CASAC teleconferences on April 8 and 9, 2010 (75
FR 8062, February 23, 2010) and May 7, 2010 (75 FR 19971, April16, 2010).



13. The EPA developed a second draft Policy Assessment (75 FR 39253, July 8, 2010) reflecting CASAC and public comments on the first draft Policy Assessment. The second draft Policy Assessment was reviewed by CASAC at a meeting on July 26 and 27, 2010 (75 FR 32763, June 9, 2010). CASAC and public comments on the second draft Policy Assessment were considered by EPA staff in preparing a final Policy Assessment titled Policy Assessment for the Review of the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards, (76 FR 22665, April
22, 2011). In addition, in the first three months of 2011, EPA conducted a series of meetings with stakeholders, especially those from the agricultural community, relating to the review of the primary and secondary standards for coarse PM and did not complete and release the Policy Assessment until those meetings were completed and the comments from the meetings assessed by EPA. The final Policy Assessment includes final staff conclusions on the adequacy of the current PM standards and alternative standards for consideration by senior EPA officials.
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14.EPA's current PM NAAQS review was well underway when the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued its mandate in American Farm Bureau v. EPA, 559 F.3d 512 on Aprill8, 2009. By that time, as explained in paragraphs 6 and 8 above, EPA had issued the first external draft of the Integrated Science Assessment which CASAC and the public were reviewing.
EPA had also already issued Scope and Method Plans for conducting both the Risk Assessment and the Urban-Focused Visibility Assessment. It was already clear that there was an enormous body of new science on PM since the 2004 PM Criteria Document, including hundreds of new epidemiologic studies, including extended follow-up to important long-term exposure studies. The new science includes a continuation of the Gauderman study exam ining effects of long-term PM2.5 exposure in a cohort of southern California children, a study that figured significantly in the court's decision to remand the primary annual PM2.5 standard (see 559 F.3d at 524-25).

15. Given the body of new scientific information, EPA decided to respond to the remand as part of the on-going statutory periodic review and related
rulemaking, rather than attempting to explai n or revise its prior decision based on the already outdated scientific record for the 2006 PM NAAQS. This assured that EPA's response would reflect consideration of all of the new science, including the continuation of the Gauderman study, and consideration of the entire body of
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short-term and long-term exposure studies. This approach also assured that EPA's on-going periodic review would not be diverted or disrupted by a separate action reevaluating the 2006 rule based on a scientific record which had been partially superseded.

16. Both before and since completion of the Policy Assessment in April


2011, EPA has been working to develop a comprehensive proposed rulemaking package that addresses all relevant issues involving whether, and if so how, the PM NAAQS should be revised. This is a time consuming and involved undertakjng, as the rulemaking package needs to explain in detail EPA's reasoning concerning whether or not the current primary and secondary standards for both fine and
coarse PM are appropriate or should be revised. If revisions are proposed, a rationale for each element of the NAAQS (averaging time, indicator, form, and level; see 559 F.3d at 515) must be provided. In addition, the package discusses the complex issues related to interpretation of the NAAQS for PM2.s, including
requirements for data use and reporting for comparison with the PM2.s NAAQS.


(see 40 C.P.R. Part 50 Appendix N). Consistent with other NAAQS proposals, EPA contemplates discussing issues relating to monitoring PM in the package, including issues relating to the Federal Reference method and equivalent monitoring methods for PM, as well as issues regarding the size and location of the PM monitoring network.

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17. EPA has committed enormous agency resources to all of the work performed to date in the review of the PM NAAQS. This work has involved large numbers of staff and managers within several different offices within EPA, including the Office of Air and Radiation, Office of Research and Development, Office of General Counsel, Office of Policy, and the Office of the Administrator. As discussed above, very significant progress has been made to date.

18. As I stated in paragraph 17 of my Declaration of January 13, 2012, EPA's next steps at that point included fmishing internal agency review and completing interagency review pursuant to Executive Orders 12866 (58 FR 51735, September 30, 1993) and 13563 (76 FR 3821, January 18, 2011), including completing the steps necessary to prepare and issue the proposed rule. 1 Since January, EPA continued to spend time and resources on preparing the proposed
rule for issuance, such as continuing to prepare the preamble and the regulations on issues related to monitoring and handling of air quality data. In addition, EPA expects to submit it for interagency review in the very near term.

19. The PM NAAQS proposal will involve many complex scientific, technical, and poli cy issues of great public health significance. As noted, the proposal will address both primary and secondary standards for not only fme PM but coarse PM as well. There is an abundance of new scientific evidence and other
1 Executive Order 12866 provides for 90 days for i nteragency review. EO section 6(b)(2)(B).

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information informing this review. Accordingly, EPA believes the public should have ample time to comment on the proposal, as well as to participate in the public hearings provided by 42 U.S.C. §7607(d)(5).

As in other proposed NAAQS rulemakings, EPA expects there will be a large number of significant public comments submitted. For example, in the last review more than 120,000 comments were received from members of the public and various interested groups on the proposed revisions to the PM NAAQS issued on January 17, 2006. Additional comments were received from CASAC. Comments were also received from EPA's Children Health Protection Advisory Committee. A broad variety of stakeholder groups provided comments, including representatives of Environmental/Public Health/Medical organizations, Industry, and States/locals/tribal organizations. In this rulemaking, it will take a significant
period of time to review and evaluate the comments, make decisions on the content of the final action in light of the comments, and then develop a rulemaking
package embodying and explaining the final decisions. EPA will also develop a comprehensive response to significant public comments, as requ ired under 42
U.S.C. §7607(d)(6)(B). In the 2006 review, EPA's Responses to Significant Comments Document was itself 435 pages long, single spaced. All of these steps are time-consuming and intensive. No less time or effort will be needed to address




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comments in this rulemaking. A period for interagency review of a final r.ule is also called for under the Executive Orders cited above.

20. EPA currently believes approximately one •year from issuance of the proposal is reasonable for completion of the rulemaking process. This length of time is based both on the complexity and the importance of the issues. As noted above, the rulemaking deals with primary and secondary standards for both fine and coarse particulate matter, a very large body of new science, and highly significant public health and welfare considerations. While in some NAAQS rulemakings the time between proposing and taking final action has been somewhat less, EPA believes that this rulemaking will require this amount of time.

Since the last review, a very large body of new science has been developed involving the health effects of PM, and it will be a central focus of the rulemaking. While this itself is not unique, the depth and complexity of the body of health effects evidence on PM, and the approaches open to the agency to evaluate and weigh this evidence have expanded over time, not decreased. As such, more time and effort are needed to interpret and apply the science in the context of this rulemaking compared to the last review, not less.

In the same vein, the body of science has continued to grow since the issuance of the Integrated Science Assessment in December 2009. In this NAAQS


14





rulemaking as well as others, EPA expects that many commenters will cite to numerous new studies in support of or opposition to various arguments. EPA has traditionally based its decision on studies and related information included in the Integrated Science Assessment (previously Criteria Document), the Risk and Exposure Assessment, and the Policy Assessment (previously the Staff Paper), which undergo CASAC and public review, and intends to do so in this rulemaking. However, as in prior rulemakings, it will also be important that EPA conduct a provisional assessment of the new science, including those studies cited in comments, so that the Administrator will be aware of the new science that is relied upon by commenters but was published too recently to be included in the
rigorously reviewed Integrated Science Assessment. 71 FR 61144, 61148


(October 17, 2006). EPA's provisional assessment of that new science is limited to screening and surveying these studies and evaluating the extent to which recent evidence would be likely to change the major conclusions of the Integrated Science Assessment. EPA expects that more time and effort is needed to prepare such a provisional assessment in this rulemaking compared to the last review, not less.

In addition, as in the last review EPA is considering a secondary standard to address the visibility impacts ofPM25 that would be separate and distinct from the primary standard. Compared to the last review, however, as discussed in the
Policy Assessment EPA is considering a distinct secondary standard that differs


15





from the primary standard in all four elements of the standard, indicator, form, averaging time, and level. This clearly increases the range and complexity of issues to address in this review of the secondary standard, compared to the last revtew.

This amount of time also takes into account the fact that during the same time period for this rulemaking, EPA's Office of Air and Radiation will be working on many other major rulemakings involving air pollution requirements for a wide variety of stationary and mobile sources, many with court-ordered or settlement agreement deadlines.

Based on all of the above, EPA's current plan is to take fmal action on its review of the 2006 PM NAAQS by August 15, 2013. This differs from the June
2013 schedule described in paragraph 18 of the January Declaration, and the reasons for the change in the schedule are those described in paragraph 18 of this Declaration (time and resources spent since January 2012 until the date of this Declaration, preparing the proposed rule for issuance and submission for interagency review), and paragraphs 19, and 20 (as in the January Declaration, the time needed from issuance of the proposal until final action by EPA is approximately one year).






16






21. At various points in 2010 and earlier, EPA had indicated that it planned to propose and take final action on the review of the 2006 PM NAAQS on a different schedule. This involved finishing the rulemaking at an earlier date, and spending somewhat less time between issuance of the proposal and taking final action. Notwithstanding these plans, EPA was unable to achieve the goals of the rulemaking schedules indicated in 2010 and earlier. This was due chiefly to the time needed for the preparation of the complex and comprehensive supporting documents discussed in paragraphs 5 to 13 above, the multiple reviews by CASAC and the public, and the significant revisions undertaken in light of CASAC's review and the public comments. In addition, the time needed between issuance of the proposal and issuance of the final action needs to be somewhat longer than the previous indications, based on our current consideration of all of the factors discussed •above in paragraph 20.

22. Given the importance and complexity of the issues involved in the review of the PM NAAQS, and the employment of significant agency resources to date and in the future in this review, EPA believes that the time spent to date in developing the supporting documents discussed above and the proposed regulatory package, and the time projected for completion of the review, reflect the most expeditious schedule that EPA reasonably can meet under the circumstances, for
all of the reasons discussed above.


17





23. It would not be possible to take final action by October 15, 2012, as requested by Plaintiffs. After signature and issuance of a proposed rule on the PM NAAQS, the rule would be published by the Office of Federal Register. As noted above, EPA is required to provide an opportunity for public comment and an opportunity for a public hearing(s). EPA is required to keep the comment period open at least 30 days from completion of the public hearing(s). Based on experience with numerous NAAQS rulemakings, and the complexity of the issues presented in this rulemaking, EPA believes that somewhat more than 3 months is needed from the issuance of the proposed rule to have the rule published in the Federal Register, hold public hearings, and complete the public comment period.

After the comment period closes, significant time and resources have to be spent before final agency action can be taken on the proposed rule. The EPA will review the comments, which are expected to be voluminous and detailed, and develop responses to the comments. As discussed in paragraph 19, this requires a significant amount of time and effort.

Senior management in EPA will be briefed on the comments and potential options for the final rule, and will need to consider and make decisions on the content of the final rule. The EPA will develop a final rulemaking package that embodies and explains these decisions as well as will develop a written response to



18






comments document. Finally, a period for interagency review of a final rule is also called for under the Executive Orders cited above.

No matter what date EPA were to issue a proposed rule, there would not be enough time to complete the public comment and hearing process, and complete the very significant amount of work that needs to be done between the end of the comment period and the issuance of a final rule, by October 15, 201 2.




Regma McCarthy

Assistant Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation
May !f.-,2012


































Monday, May 07, 2012

Death Risks Higher for Heart Attack Survivors Living Near Major Roadways

See item on new study, below. Too bad the Obama Administration's re-election timidity has caused it to delay updating national clean air standards for fine-particle soot and ozone.


Death Risks Higher for Heart Attack Survivors Living Near Major Roadways

Study Highlights:
• Living near a major roadway increases heart attack survivors' risk of death.
• The study provides new evidence that long-term exposure to roadways is associated with increased risk for death, including in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease.

EMBARGOED UNTIL 3 pm CT/4 pm ET, Monday, May 7, 2012

DALLAS, May 7, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Heart attack survivors who live about 100 meters (328 feet) or less from a major U.S. roadway face increased risk of death from all causes, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation.

In the Determinants of MI Onset Study of 3,547 heart attack survivors (average age 62), researchers found:
• Those living less than 100 meters (328 feet) from the roadway have a 27 percent increased risk of dying over 10 years than those living at least 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) away.
• Those living 100 to 199 meters (328 to 653 feet) from the roadway have a 19 percent increased risk of death.
• Those living 200 to 999 meters (653 feet to 3,277 feet) from the roadway have a 13 percent increased risk of death.

The roadways include major interstate and state roads throughout the United States.

"We think there is exposure to a combination of air pollution near these roadways and other exposure, such as excessive noise or stress from living close to the roadway, that may contribute to the study findings," said Murray A. Mittleman, M.D., Dr.PH, study author and director of the Cardiovascular Research Unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Mass.

During the 10 years of the Onset Study, 1,071 deaths occurred: 672 people (63 percent) died of cardiovascular causes. Cancer was the cause of death for 131 people (12 percent) and respiratory disease for 45 (4 percent).

Researchers examined and accounted for numerous factors in the analysis, including personal, clinical and neighborhood-level characteristics (income and education).

"People with lower levels of education and income are more likely to live in communities closer to a major roadway, so they are bearing a larger burden of the risk associated with exposure than people with more resources," said Mittleman, who is also an associate professor at Harvard Medical School.

Long-term exposure to air pollution is already associated with increased risk of cardiovascular death in the general population. The findings provide new evidence that long-term exposure to roadways is associated with increased risk for death, including in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease, he said.

"From the public policy point of view, the association between risk of death and proximity of housing to major roadways should be considered when new communities are planned," Mittleman said. "From an individual point of view, people may lessen the absolute risk of living near a roadway by paying attention to the general prevention measures, including quitting smoking, eating a heart-healthy diet exercising regularly, and keeping blood pressure and cholesterol under control."

Co-authors are Joshua I. Rosenbloom, M.P.H.; Elissa H. Wilker, Sc.D.; Kenneth J. Mukamal, M.D., M.P.H.; and Joel Schwartz, Ph.D.

Author disclosures are on the manuscript.

The Environmental Protection Agency and the National Institute of Environmental Health Science funded the study.

The EPA introduced its National Ambient Air Quality Standards in 1997 to educate the public about daily air quality levels, including ozone and particulate matter levels. Daily updates can be found at www.epa.gov/airnow and in many newspapers across the country.

The American Heart Association supports EPA guidelines for activity restriction for people with heart disease, certain cardiovascular risk factors, pulmonary disease and diabetes, and for the elderly.

Read the American Heart Association scientific statement on air pollution and cardiovascular disease. Take these free risk assessment quizzes and find your personal risk of heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes.

What the heck is happening north of the border? Government charges "money laundering" in apparent ploy to move tar sands pipeline

It has come to our attention that the new Canadian federal budget will drop the office of oversight of the country's spy agency -- while voting additional funds for investigating "money laundering" by Canadian environmental charities who receive funding from US foundations to work on environmental campaigns such as the tar sands and pipelines. What the heck is going on? The Toronto Globe and Mail calls this a “smear campaign” by a government trying to promote a pipeline to move tar sands oil for exports:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/opinions/editorials/ottawa-should-halt-its-smear-campaign-against-pipeline-detractors/article2423344/

Environment Minister Peter Kent’s unsupported accusations of “money laundering” involving foreign and Canadian environmental charities are part of an apparent campaign of the Conservative government to smear and intimidate groups opposed to the Northern Gateway pipeline.

Mr. Kent’s accusation in Parliament and media interviews, and the pattern they are a part of, suggest the government is improperly taking sides between the environment and business – trying to discredit those who raise environmental concerns in a public-hearing process mandated under federal law.

…the Conservatives found $8-million for Revenue Canada to do extra audits and other compliance work with the charitable sector, focused on political activity and foreign sources of funds. And now Mr. Kent says foreign environmental charities are “laundering” money through Canadian charities.

**
And from a recent budget article:

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/budget-bill-also-tackles-csis-oversight-ei-and-environment/article2415457/

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty tabled a 421-page budget bill Thursday that provides new detail on a wide range of measures that were only hinted at in the Conservative government’s March 29 budget. Here are some of the highlights:

Budget bill also tackles CSIS oversight, EI and environment

Key official dropped from spy agency

The legislation will scrap a key official overseeing Canada’s spy agency. A spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the surprise move to axe the inspector general of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will save taxpayers almost $1-million a year.

Julie Carmichael said the unannounced decision to cut the office – known as the minister's eyes and ears on CSIS – will actually strengthen independent oversight of the agency. But other experts say pushing more duties onto the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is currently without a chairman, won't improve oversight.

When Mr. Toews announced the reappointment of inspector general Eva Plunkett in 2010, he said her office helps ensure that CSIS operates within the law and follows current policies.

Ms. Plunkett's annual reports to the minister have been frank and often highly critical, including a warning last year that the spy agency was failing to follow new accountability standards set by the Supreme Court of Canada…

• Changes streamline assessments

Much of the budget legislation deals with the overhaul of environmental-assessment legislation, which the government says will streamline the system to speed up resource project reviews. But critics complain it will gut environmental protection.

The bill will set new timelines for agencies reviewing resource projects, including the joint panel currently assessing the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the B.C. coast. The exact impact is unclear, but it could shorten the review period by several months.
It would repeal the Kyoto Implementation Act, a private-member’s bill passed by the then opposition-dominated Parliament in 2007. That law forced the government to report annually on its progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The proposed legislation would allow officials from the National Energy Board and Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to raid offices of companies they suspect of failing to comply with environmental conditions attached to permits. But environmentalists say that to be effective, the agency needs to be fully staffed.

The budget bill amends the Fisheries Act so the federal government will only oversee waters that support major fisheries of commercial, recreational or aboriginal value, with officials to decide whether tributary streams qualify.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Smog Watch Report: Texas is Number One -- for Smog in 2012

It is, of course, a coincidence, but… the same week that EPA Regional Administrator Al Armendariz was forced from his Dallas-based post, Clean Air Watch must report that Texas leads the nation in dirty-air days so far in 2012.


Yes, in recent days we’ve had the American Lung Association annual State of the Air Report and then EPA’s official list of areas out of compliance with the scientifically deficient ozone standards set by the Bush EPA. And now Clean Air Watch presents a real-time Smog Watch update: as snapshot of areas with the same unhealthful levels of ozone (using the same Bush standards as our basis) in 2012. This is the only report using information from this year, based on information supplied by our volunteers, who have been monitoring state-run web sites.


In brief, here is what they’ve found: through April of this year, seven states have already suffered ozone levels above the Bush standard of 75 parts per billion. There have been 26 days this year with unhealthful levels in one state or another.


Texas, unfortunately, leads the pack with 12 dirty-smog days through the end of April. Ten of those smog-filled days took place in the Houston area (Harris County). Altogether nationwide there have been 148 so-called “exceedences” (level above the standard) recorded at monitors nationwide.


Below is a list of states with problems and the number of dirty-air days, through the end of April. For a little context, we have also included similar information for the same period in 2011, though, as one of our volunteers notes accurately, year to year variability in weather will make comparisons between years not that meaningful. It is too soon to predict that this year’s smog season will be worse than last.


It is, however, fair to note that we are indeed seeing smog problems long before the start of summer. And that this information underscores the need for the EPA to set tougher motor vehicle and low-sulfur gasoline standards, which would quickly reduce smog levels across the nation.
**


Smog Watch 2012 through April compared to last year

State Ozone dirty air days 2012 (148 exceedences overall)

Overall dirty-air days somewhere (in at least one state): 26

Seven states

Arizona 3
California 7
Colorado 4
Florida 3
Louisiana 2
New Mexico 1
Texas 12
**

State ozone dirty air days 2011 (126 exceedences overall)

Overall dirty-air days somewhere (in at least one state): 20

10 states

Arkansas 1
California 4
Kansas 4
Louisiana 3
Missouri 1
New York 1
Oklahoma 6
Texas 9
Utah 3
Wyoming 7

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Romney alleged "jobs" plan includes attacks on Clean Air Act, clean air standards and EPA

See below from the Romney "jobs" plan: http://mi.tt/IZ11iO


Reform Environmental Regulation

As president, Mitt Romney will eliminate the regulations promulgated in
pursuit of the Obama administration’s costly and ineffective anti-carbon agenda.

Romney will also press Congress to reform our environmental laws and to
ensure that they allow for a proper assessment of their costs. Laws that forbid cost assessment may have had some merit in the era in which they were passed. But that was a time when the environment was severely contaminated and the United States enjoyed full employment and low energy prices. Today, such laws are a costly anachronism and are in urgent need of reform. Romney will seek to amend the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts to ensure that cost is taken properly into account at every stage in the regulatory process.
[TRANSLATION: Since its creation under President Nixon in 1970, the Clean Air Act has required EPA to set national clean air standards for widespread air pollutants (such as ozone or fine particulate matter) based solely on medical science. Cost is not permitted as a factor in setting standards because Congress wanted to make sure that the air standards truly alert the public when the air is dirty. The Supreme Court unanimously upheld that interpretation of the law. Big polluters -- especially oil companies -- have been working since 1970 to change the law because they believe adding cost to the definition would work in their favor. At the behest of the oil industry, a House subcommittee voted in favor of just such a change as it pertains to national air standards for ozone. Romney has now cast his lot with this crowd in calling for a radical change in the Clean Air Act. The Clean Air Act, by the way, has created jobs! So this thoughtless change would do nothing but help oil companies evade cleanup -- and likely drive up health care costs associated with dirty air.]

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Some thoughts on EPA's ozone action today

As you probably know by now, the US EPA issued its official list of areas out of compliance with the 2008 Bush era ozone or smog standards. http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/designations/2008standards/regs.htm We don’t need to rehash the obvious – that medical science has shown that without a doubt, these standards are not tough enough to protect people’s health. But President Obama went into re-election mode very early and shut down EPA’s effort to correct the Bush wrong. However, the current EPA is moving ahead to put the now-outmoded standards into effect. There may well be some controversies involved. (EPA used the 3-year average of 2008-2010 to make these designations. Had it included the more recent 2011, some exempted areas such as Detroit and Louisville would have been included.) And even more areas may show up as “dirty” in the future once the unusually recession-prompted “clean” year of 2009 is dropped from the 3-year average. One thing is certain: today’s action shows that low-sulfur gasoline is absolutely critical to reducing smog levels across the nation. Now that gasoline prices are dropping – and even the dumbest demagogues can no longer blame EPA – we urge the House Energy and Commerce Committee to drop plans to kneecap EPA authority to see cleaner gas standards and to gut the process for setting smog standards. (A markup is rumored next week.) And we urge the White House to show some leadership by permitting EPA to move ahead with low-sulfur gas as a vital step to deal with the smog problem.