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Appeals court upholds EPA's particulate matter standard

From the May 13, 2014 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published May 13, 2014

By Robert Varela
Editorial Director
A federal appeals court upheld the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2013 national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (the PM2.5 standard). In a May 9 decision in National Association of Manufacturers v. U.S. EPA, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected industry challenges to the rule. 

Last year's PM2.5 rule lowered the annual standard for particulate matter emissions to 12 micrograms per cubic meter from the previous annual standard of 15 micrograms per cubic meter. The agency also eliminated a "spatial averaging" provision that allowed the standard to be met by averaging the results of multiple monitoring stations, and added a requirement that monitors be installed near heavily traveled roads in urban areas.

The court rejected challenges to the lower annual standard, saying EPA "offered reasoned explanations for how it approached and weighed the evidence, and why the scientific evidence supported revision of the NAAQS." The judges similarly ruled that the agency "fulfilled its obligation to reasonably explain its decision not to employ spatial averaging." 

In upholding the requirement that monitors be placed near heavily trafficked roads, the court said, "In the context of this statutory scheme that grants EPA substantial discretion, EPA’s decision and explanation are at least reasonable."


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Vice President, Integrated Media and Communications
Meena Dayak

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

Communications Assistant
Fallon W. Forbush

Manager, Integrated Media 
David L. Blaylock

Integrated Media Editor 
Laura D’Alessandro