EPA Will Keep Existing Soot Standards

The agency declined to implement tougher standards, a move supported by NACS.

December 09, 2020

WASHINGTON—The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to keep the current standards for soot pollution, a move NACS applauds. This week, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler revealed the agency would not be strengthening the standards on fine-particle pollution limits set in 2012, the Wall Street Journal reports. The standards are at 12 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

A 2019 agency report from staff scientists had cited tougher standards of 8 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter could lower mortality risks by more than 20%. However, after a review, EPA officials determined the current standards were adequate.

“The EPA under the Trump Administration has continued America’s leadership in clear air, lowering our particulate matter levels to well below those of many of our global competitors,” Wheeler said in a statement. “Maintaining these important standards will ensure Americans can continue to breathe some of the cleanest air on the planet.”

NACS and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) had sent a joint letter to the agency asking that it “be wary of the disproportionate impact that increasing standards would have on said small businesses. This can be particularly difficult for ‘independent’ motor fuel retailers that do not have branding or supply agreements with an integrated oil company. These retailers generally seek to purchase product from a variety of suppliers at the lowest price available. They also tend to sell gasoline at retail for a lower price than their branded competitors. When supply is ‘short’—on account of fewer refineries serving a region, product transportation delays, limited storage capacities at nearby terminals, or a severe weather event—independent fuel retailers have fewer sources from which they can identify the lowest cost supply. Simple economics dictate that decreases in supply lead to price increases for consumers.”

Particulate matter includes fine particles, which are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller, according to the EPA. They can be emitted directly from a variety of sources, including vehicles, smokestacks and fires. They also form when gases emitted by power plants, industrial processes and gasoline and diesel engines react in the atmosphere. Coarse particles, which have diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers, include road dust that is kicked up by traffic, some agricultural operations, construction and demolition operations, industrial processes and biomass burning, the EPA said.