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E-M:/ News Release: Administration Ignores Science in Proposing Standards or Particle Pollution

------------------------------------------------------------------------- Enviro-Mich message from Jason Barbose ------------------------------------------------------------------------- For immediate release: December 20, 2005                                         
Contact: Emily Figdor, U.S.PIRG, 202-546-9707
Jason Barbose, PIRGIM, 734-662-6597
Administration Ignores Science in Proposing Standards for Particle Pollution
Washington, DC—Disregarding its own science advisors, the Bush administration today largely rejected tightening limits on dangerous particle pollution.  Required by the courts to consider new national air quality standards for fine particle pollution, the administration proposed a very minor change to the standards that will protect only an additional 3 percent of the U.S. population.
National air quality standards are the foundation for all of the nation’s work to reduce air pollution, making today’s decision one of the most important that the Bush administration will make on air quality issues.
“This administration consistently puts politics before science, but today’s decision to ignore mountains of medical research showing that air pollution causes serious health problems will have devastating consequences for the health of millions of Americans.  Once again, industry lobbyists won the day,” said U.S. PIRG Clean Air Advocate Emily Figdor.
EPA rejected tightening the “annual” fine particle standard, opting instead only to slightly lower the “daily” standard to 35 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m3), despite contrary recommendations from its own independent Clean Air Act Scientific Advisory Committee and EPA staff scientists.
“This may be the most important decision that the Bush administration makes on air pollution, but the White House has chosen to disregard its own science advisors under pressure from the electric power industry and other special interests.  This decision is sure to disappoint the public,” said Figdor.
The Clean Air Act requires that national air quality standards be based strictly on the health effects of the pollutants.  More than 2,000 peer-reviewed studies have been published since the fine particle standards were first adopted in 1997, linking particle pollution to asthma attacks, heart and lung disease, and death.  Many of the studies show adverse health effects at exposures well below the current annual standard of 15 µg/m3 and daily standard of 65 µg/m3.
A study published today in JAMA—the nation’s leading medical journal—found that long-term exposure to particle pollution causes heart disease by hardening, narrowing, and clogging the arteries.
Coal-fired power plants and diesel vehicles are the largest sources of fine particle pollution.  The tiny particles can lodge deep in the lungs or pass directly into the bloodstream, causing serious respiratory and cardiovascular problems, including an estimated 60,000 premature deaths each year.  EPA estimates that particle pollution shortens the lives of its victims by an average of 14 years. 
The current fine particle standards protect only 56 million Americans; EPA’s proposal would protect just 9 million more people, or an additional 3 percent of the population.  U.S. PIRG supports an annual standard of 12 µg/m3 and a daily standard of 25 µg/m3, which would protect an additional 109 million Americans and reduce premature deaths from particle pollution in nine cities studied by EPA by an estimated 92 percent.
“The Bush administration is shirking its obligation to protect the public in order to keep the status quo for polluters,” said Figdor.
The Bush administration is under a court order to finalize the new standards by September 27, 2006.  The PIRGs plan to use upcoming public hearings on the proposal to urge the administration to substantially strengthen the standards.
U.S. PIRG is the national advocacy office for the state Public Interest Research Groups. 
PIRGIM is a statewide non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization.
Jason Barbose
PIRGIM Field Organizer

103 E. Liberty St., Suite 202
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
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