WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released the following statement after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it will narrow its final particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) from 12 to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, a level that would be unattainable for many areas across the country.
“The Biden administration’s punishing air standard finalized today is simply not realistic to meet. To comply with this rule, states will need to limit development across large areas of the country, threatening manufacturing and energy projects, limiting economic growth, and leaving millions of Americans behind to deal with the negative consequences. Given the vast majority of PM2.5 emissions come from non-point sources like wildfires, we urged the administration not to go too far or target American businesses by setting its particulate matter standard too low. It’s disappointing to see the EPA is moving ahead without considering these important factors.”
According to the World Health Organization, the United States enjoys some of the cleanest air in the world. The EPA’s own figures report that direct emissions of PM2.5 are down 40 percent from 1990 levels and annual ambient PM2.5 concentrations have decreased 43 percent between 2000 and 2019.
In September 2023, Ranking Member Capito led 22 other senators, including every Republican on the EPW Committee, in urging the EPA to rescind its proposed PM2.5 national ambient air quality standard.
In June 2023, Ranking Member Capito led introduction of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards Implementation Act of 2023, which would improve the processes both for EPA to revise current NAAQS and for states to implement the standards. Under the Clean Air Act’s NAAQS program, the EPA sets standards for six criteria pollutants, including ground-level ozone and particulate matter. Earlier this year, the EPA took a discretionary action to propose making the NAAQS for particulate matter more stringent. Historically, the EPA has consistently missed statutory deadlines for both reviewing standards and for providing implementation guidance to states. Capito’s legislation would address these issues and set a more reasonable and attainable schedule for EPA actions.
# # #