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Obama Administration Champions New Air Quality Standards with Major Health Benefits

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Burning_SootIn early December, the Obama administration imposed a new air quality standard that aims to reduce the amount of soot released into the air by 20%. Soot, comprised of fine particulate matter, contains microscopic particles that are released from smokestacks, diesel trucks, and wood-burning stoves.

In addition to creating a layer of haze in the sky, breathing in soot can cause lung and heart problems and contributes to heart attacks, asthma attacks, and strokes.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) believes the new standards will save thousands of lives annually, in addition to reducing illness in the nation’s communities. Children with severe asthma represent only a fraction of those benefited.

The American Lung Association believes the standard will save an estimated 15,000 lives a year, as opposed to the current standard, and many residents of urban areas, where exposure to high emissions are considerable, will most benefit.

However, the Obama administration is experiencing some push back. Republicans on the House Science Committee sent a letter to top Obama administration officials warning if the new soot compliance rule was rushed in order to comply with a court order, there would be issues since they feel it is based on non-transparent data.

They called on Obama to allow access to these data sets and to only make regulatory decisions on publically-available data. The letter states that the members of the Science, Space, and Technology Committee have requested the EPA’s scientific data repeatedly and want to know exactly how the EPA justifies the benefits of this rule.

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