By Tiffany Hartung, Advocacy Director
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced it will be updating soot pollution standards to protect our health and our climate. The update is a critical step forward in helping protect communities from deadly air pollution but it fails to set the strongest science-based soot pollution standards that would protect communities.
Soot is a dangerous and deadly pollutant that is produced by power plants, tailpipes on cars and trucks, and other industrial sources. An updated standard for soot pollution could save thousands of lives.
Soot pollution threatens public health and the environment — posing particular risks for children, seniors and people with chronic illness. According to the American Lung Association, 63 million Americans experience unhealthy spikes in daily soot, also known as particle pollution, and more than 20 million Americans experience dangerous levels of soot pollution on a year-round basis.
Soot is also a highly inequitably spread pollutant, with its burdens falling especially to low-wealth communities and communities of color. These communities face increased health burdens from pollution compared to the overall population.
Existing scientific and technical information indicates the current standard—which was last updated in 2012—may not be adequate to protect public health. Under our nation’s clean air laws, EPA is required to review the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particle pollution every five years and consider new scientific evidence related to the health impacts from the pollution.
The EPA has a moral opportunity right now to advance environmental justice, ensure that our neighbors have clean air to breathe, and to protect those most vulnerable such as children, seniors, and people with chronic illness.
Our communities need EPA to strengthen its proposed standard in the final standard issued to reflect the health science and the recommendations of EPA’s independent science advisors.
As people of faith and conscience, our values call us to love our neighbors and to be good stewards of our Sacred Earth. Help IPL ensure that EPA issues a final standard with stronger soot pollution limits that will protect our air, advance environmental justice, and protect public health.
Faith leaders, you can help by adding your name to this letter to the EPA calling on the agency to issue a strong, science-based soot pollution standard that protects the health of our communities and advances environmental justice. We will deliver it to the EPA in March.