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Industry ponders response to EPA Clean Air Act ruling

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WASHINGTON—The Rubber Manufacturers Association (RMA) and other manufacturing associations are considering their options—including a possible lawsuit—in reaction to the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) new national air quality standard for fine particulates under the Clean Air Act.

The final rule announced Dec. 14 sets the annual standard for fine particulates, including soot, to 12 micrograms per cubic meter. The existing daily standards for both fine and coarse particulates remain the same, according to the EPA.

Fine particles in the air have been shown to penetrate deeply into lungs, causing acute bronchitis, asthma, heart attacks and strokes, the agency said.

“A federal court ruling required the EPA to update the standard based on best available science,” the EPA said.

“Today's announcement, which meets that requirement, builds on smart steps already taken by the EPA to slash dangerous pollution in communities across the country.

“Thanks to these steps, 99 percent of U.S. counties are projected to meet the standard without any additional action,” the agency said.

The RMA, however, has significant concerns about the standard, according to an association spokesman.

“The threshold the EPA selected was at the lower end of the expected size,” the spokesman said. “We also have a number of questions about the methodologies the EPA used to determine which counties would be non-attainment areas.”

Those non-attainment determinations could have a significant effect on manufacturing facilities across the U.S., he said. The RMA plans to consult its members as to the effects of the standard, and then it will evaluate its options, including a petition for reconsideration or perhaps joining with other associations in litigation, he said.

Also denouncing the new rule was the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which had championed keeping the annual standard for fine particulates at the former level of 15 micrograms per cubic meter.

“With the fiscal cliff only a few weeks away and so much hanging in the balance, the EPA displayed a staggering level of shortsightedness by dropping another harsh regulation on America's job creators,” said Jay Timmons, NAM president and CEO.

To reach this reporter: mmoore; 202-662-7211.
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