The government agency, which is under a court order to deliver a plan by this week, will propose lowering the particulate matter standard from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to between 12 to 14 micrograms per cubic meter, Bloomberg reported. The EPA is expected to issue final standards by Dec. 14, 2012.
Lobbyists by oil companies, manufacturers and other industries have pressured the Obama Administration to maintain current air quality standards, arguing that tighter rules would exact a heavy toll on the economy.
But in February, 11 states filed a lawsuit in a US District Court in New York to require the EPA to issue stricter national air quality rules for soot, after the agency failed to meet an October 2011 deadline to revise existing standard for fine particulate matter.
EPA set standards for fine particulate matter – particles of 2.5 microns in diameter – in 1997, and maintained most of these standards in a 2006 decision. That year, it decided to tighten the 24-hour exposure standard from 65 grams per meter cubed to 35 g/m3.
At the time, EPA said the revised 24-hour exposure standard would yield $9 billion to $76 billion a year in health and visibility benefits in 2020. Health benefits include reductions in premature death, diseases and symptoms associated with fine particulate pollution exposure, such as asthma attacks and strokes, the agency said.
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