July 15, 2024 7:28 am
Close this search box.

Local News

Group Urges EPA to Set Stronger Rules for Soot Pollution

Credit: iStock

Danielle Smith

In Georgia and across the country, advocates for clean air are asking the Environmental Protection Agency to do more to protect public health by strengthening air-quality standards for soot pollution.

Soot is fine particulate matter from power plants, vehicles and refineries, and the EPA has proposed revisions to its National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

Isabella Ariza, associate attorney for the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign in Georgia, said the EPA is reducing the allowed micrograms from 12 to anything between nine and 10, but she emphasized according to scientific studies, nothing above eight micrograms is safe. She added the health burdens of soot pollution could be fatal.

“It can lead to lung failure, it can lead to heart diseases, and strengthening this rule really can prevent hundreds and thousands of premature deaths,” Ariza asserted. “I have the estimate of Georgia here, and it’s around 80 premature deaths from coal plants alone associated to soot pollution.”

Ariza pointed out the new rules will benefit Georgian who are heavily impacted by poor air quality if they live near industrial facilities, highways or a power plant.

In the meantime, the EPA said the plan reflects the latest health data and scientific evidence, but it is accepting feedback based on other suggestions as well. The agency held public hearings this month and is accepting public comments until March 28.

Patrick Drupp, director of climate policy for the Sierra Club, said everyone has a right to breathe in clean air and now, the right is being denied to a lot of people around the country. Drupp noted the agency’s own Scientific Advisory Committee has recommended tougher standards.

“The EPA could save up to 20,000 lives per year based on their own science and their own analysis,” Drupp stressed. “Adopting a more stringent standard — going from the low end of what they proposed of nine to what we’re asking for of no higher than eight — can save an additional 4,000 lives.”

Drupp added 63 million Americans live in areas with unhealthy spikes of soot pollution, and 20 million live with dangerous levels year-round.

Disclosure: The Sierra Club contributes to our fund for reporting on Climate Change/Air Quality, Energy Policy, Environment, and Environmental Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


Proposed rule EPA 01/06/2023
Study EPA 09/20/2021

This story was written by Danielle Smith, a producer at Public News Service, where this story first appeared.

Georgia Supreme Court justices appear skeptical of Athens DA’s claim of open records exemption

In an upcoming ruling, Georgia’s Supreme Court will weigh in on a claim brought by Athens-Clarke District Attorney Deborah Gonzalez, arguing that top prosecutors are exempt from the state’s open records laws. The case involves assertions that the trial court overlooked a constitutional provision in denying Gonzalez’s motion to dismiss an open records complaint, mirroring similar immunity arguments made by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in a separate case related to the 2020 presidential election interference.

Georgia public colleges to expand admissions testing requirements for fall 2026

Georgia colleges are reverting to requiring standardized test scores for all new applicants, signaling a shift from pandemic-era policies. Beginning in fall 2026, institutions including Augusta University, The University of Georgia, and Georgia Tech will mandate SAT or ACT scores, a decision unanimously approved by the Georgia Board of Regents.

Water-hogging data centers flagged in latest ‘Dirty Dozen’ environmental watchdog report

In its annual report released on Thursday, the Georgia Water Coalition spotlighted the detrimental effects of record economic growth on the state’s waterways, particularly in the coastal region, where a surge in state-of-the-art data centers poses a significant threat to Georgia’s rivers. The report urges urgent action from public officials and residents to advocate for policies that safeguard natural resources crucial for clean drinking water and outdoor recreation, emphasizing the need for coordinated water planning to address mounting environmental pressures.