Subcommittee Members Express Concern that EPA’s New Particulate Matter Standard Blocks Economic Growth

June 28, 2012

WASHINGTON, DC - The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, chaired by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-KY), today held a hearing examining EPA’s recent proposal to lower the annual standard for fine particulate matter. Members of the subcommittee have expressed concern that the proposed changes may result in significant adverse economic consequences and job losses, and that EPA did not consider retaining the current standard.
 
”EPA’s proposal calls for ratcheting down the already-stringent annual standard for fine particulate matter set in 2006. The new 2006 standard hasn’t even been fully implemented yet,” said Chairman Whitfield. “It is important to note that when we are talking about the costs of the proposed fine particulate matter standard, it is not just a matter of dollars and cents. The costs can also be measured in terms of damage to public health and safety. And of course, when we are talking about regulations with the potential to destroy jobs, we need to take into account the very serious adverse health implications of unemployment.”

Brad Muller, who testified on behalf of Charlotte Pipe and Foundry Company, explained the chilling impact of EPA’s proposal on job creation and economic growth, stating, “We believe that the proposed more stringent PM 2.5 standards will bring additional costs not only foundries, but U.S. manufacturers, utilities, and states. Specifically, these new proposed standards will create challenging requirements for existing foundries and create huge hurdles to permitting expansions and the building of new plants or in the worst case scenario - prevent new plants from being built at all.”

Marc Herbst testified on behalf of the American Road and Transportation Builders Association that the new rule could present a barrier to projects that reduce traffic congestion and enhance public safety. “Nearly 32,000 people die on U.S. highways each year and many federally-funded highway improvements are designed specifically to address safety issues,” said Herbst. “As such, imposing new PM standards that threaten future highway improvements could be counterproductive to improving public health.”

Former EPA official Jeffrey R. Holmstead suggested EPA was not being fully transparent about the consequences of its actions, stating, “My primary concern about the new proposed standards is that EPA is not being fully honest about the burden it will impose on state and local governments, companies and businesses, and American consumers. EPA is not, or at least should not be, just another advocacy group waging a public relations campaign. The Agency and its officials should be open and honest about the implications of its regulatory actions.”

Members and witnesses also expressed concerns regarding the contradictory analysis behind EPA’s proposal. “On a more practical side, EPA's health harm projections for PM, which are based on the statistical associations alone, are contradicted by the health of people in dusty occupations, and by everyday experience of all of us when we breathe elevated levels of PM in our own homes, cars, and other personal environments, such as lawn mowing, raking leaves, barbecuing, vacuuming, and sitting by the fireplace or campfire. These PM concentrations are vastly higher than PM in typical outdoor air,” explained Peter Valberg, Principal at Gradient Corporation.

Whitfield cautioned the EPA’s new particulate matter standards will only worsen the negative impacts that Utility MACT, Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, Boiler MACT, ozone standards, and greenhouse gas regulations collectively, will have on jobs, and our nation’s economic recovery.

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