For a clean future

Washington dc Court approves usepa's air quality standards

Published: Wednesday 15 May 2002

in a landmark decision the Washington dc circuit court has upheld the us Environmental Protection Agency's (usepa) ambient air quality standard for fine particulate matter (pm 2.5) at 15 microgramme per cubic metre (g/cum) and ground level ozone standard at 157g/cum. The legal approval of the air quality standard comes after a five-year long battle by the usepa to clear the standards, which were initially set in 1997. Challenging the authenticity of epa's standards was the industry sector alleging that the norms were arbitrary and not supported by any evidence.

The recent court order also rejected all the pleas of the industry sector that epa acted arbitrarily in setting the national ambient air quality standards. In a unanimous decision the three-judge panel found that epa "engaged in reasoned decision-making" in establishing levels that protect public health and the environment.

After the court's decision, epa Administrator Christie Whitman said, "Today's unanimous decision is a significant victory in epa's ongoing efforts to protect the health of millions of Americans from the dangers of air pollution."

According to the Clean Air Act, epa has to review all its air standards every five years to make sure they reflect the latest and the best scientific evidence. In 1997, based on thousands of new health studies epa had toughened the standards for smog and, for the first time, set a standard specifically for fine particles equal to or smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter.

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