Obama Administration Finds Winning Streak in Drive to Curb Air Pollution

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The Obama administration has won its third court victory on air pollution regulation in less than a month with a unanimous 3-0 ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals in favor of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The ruling May 9 that the EPA has the legal authority to enact stricter standards on fine particulate matter, also known as soot, is a defeat for the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), which sued the EPA for its regulations on soot coming from coal-fired power plants, refineries, and vehicles, arguing that EPA exceeded its authority.

Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA can restrict air pollutants based on established science that is shown to protect public health. NAM disputed the science upon which the EPA based its stricter soot limits, but the appeals court dismissed that argument, saying that the “EPA’s decision and explanation are at least reasonable.”

Under the rules, annual limits on particulate emissions tightened from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter.