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Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson announced on Oct. 14 that the agency will not revise the air quality standards for coarse particulate matter (PM-10) in a forthcoming proposed rule.
The EPA sets national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for so-called particulate matter — such as smog and fugitive dust — and for lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and carbon monoxide.
The NAAQS are reviewed every five years and can be revised to protect public health and the environment.
Among the sources and activities from which coarse particulate matter originates are unpaved roads, farming and construction projects.
States and municipalities that are unable to meet NAAQS are required to develop plans for reducing pollution.
Set in 1997, the current NAAQS for coarse particulate matter is 150 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged daily.
Fugitive dust is a problem in the desert Southwest, and builders in Nevada, Arizona and Southern California are familiar with both the EPA program and their states’ implementation plans to meet the air quality standards.
Jackson’s announcement came in response to letters from Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent on behalf of farming and mining interests that in 2006 sued EPA over the PM-10 NAAQS (American Farm Bureau Federation v. EPA), claiming that rural dust should be differentiated from urban dust.
Had the Farm Bureau federation prevailed, farming and mining would have been exempted as sources of fugitive dust, leaving home builders and developers as the primary sources of fugitive dust in non-attainment areas.
The court decided against the Farm Bureau and the 1997 PM-10 NAAQS remained unchanged.
“Based on my consideration of the scientific record, analysis provided by EPA scientists and advice from the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council, I am prepared to propose the retention — with no revision — of the current PM-10 standard and form when it is sent to [the White House Office of Management and Budget] for interagency review,” Jackson's letter said.
For more information, email Matt Watkins at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8327.