Kentucky governor calls on Biden administration to implement single soot pollution standard

Kentucky governor calls on Biden administration to implement single soot pollution standard

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Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear (D) is calling on President Biden to reconsider the administration’s proposed soot pollution standards.

In response to a request for comment from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Beshear took issue with the proposal’s use of a range of standards rather than a single standard.

The proposed rule would set the pollution standard between 8.0  and 11.0 micrograms per cubic meter. This approach, Beshear wrote in a letter last month, “makes it extremely difficult to evaluate the Commonwealth’s ability to implement a new standard and assess potential negative socioeconomic consequences resulting from any change.”

The governor also criticized the plan’s lack of a “glide path” or window for compliance, which he said could create major implementation hurdles. Clean Air Act standards, he said, have historically involved a gradual phasedown of the type Beshear’s letter requested.

The current annual national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS) for particulate matter is 12 micrograms per cubic meter, while the 24-hour NAAQS is 35 micrograms per cubic meter. State data indicates that Kentucky has seen a gradual decline in statewide particulate matter averages since the turn of the 21st century, going from about 15 micrograms/cubic meter a year in 1999 to just under 10 a year in 2018. 

“I ask that the EPA consider these concerns, withdraw the current rulemaking, and propose a singular standard for consideration,” Beshear said in his letter. “The proposal of one standard, instead of a broad range of possible standards, will allow regulatory agencies, the public, and industry an opportunity to provide meaningful comment and begin to plan to comply with the proposal.”

Anti-air pollution advocates have called for a federal particulate matter standard of 8 micrograms per cubic meter a year. A 2023 report from the American Lung Association indicated about 36 percent of the population of the U.S. lives in an area the group assigned a failing ground for levels of particulate matter or ozone.

The Hill has reached out to the EPA for comment. 

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