Carter, Newhouse lead 100+ Republicans in calling for end to EPA’s recent air quality rule

U.S. Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) helped lead 109 Republicans in demanding that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rescind its recent final rule for National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

The EPA’s final rule, issued on Feb. 7, lowers the primary PM2.5 annual NAAQS but retains the 24-hour standard, a move that the lawmakers say will have devastating economic consequences to their congressional districts while providing minimal real benefit in return.

“Lowering PM standards… will put one-third of the U.S. population in areas of nonattainment,” wrote the members in a Feb. 16 letter sent to EPA Administrator Michael Regan. “Not only that, but businesses will be forced to cut through red tape to satisfy new permitting requirements, impacting jobs and recreational activities, as well as subsequently the economy, if they can even obtain permits at all.”

At the same time, Rep. Carter, Rep. Newhouse, and their colleagues noted that despite there not being any updated implementation guidance from the EPA, the agency nonetheless expects states to submit new implementation plans to demonstrate they have the “necessary” clean air programs and authorities to meet the newly revised standards, according to their letter. 

“All permits thereafter must be submitted at the new level, giving industries effectively no time to adjust and meet these ridiculous new standards,” they wrote. “An effective date of 60 calendar days within publishing of the Federal Register will create permitting gridlock, force industries out of compliance, and result in small businesses shutting their doors due to an aggressive regulatory regime.”

In a separate statement, Reps. Newhouse and Carter reiterated those concerns.

“The Biden administration’s irresponsible and unnecessary PM2.5 standard is a death knell for vital U.S. industries, including manufacturing and timber,” said Rep. Carter, chairman of the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Environment, Manufacturing, and Critical Materials Subcommittee. “As the representative from the No. 1 forestry state in the nation and a district that is seeing a manufacturing boom, that is deeply concerning.

“America has the best environmental standards and wonderful economic potential,” Rep. Carter added. “We must maintain both by working with industry leaders to enact practical NAAQS reforms that build on the Clean Air Act’s 40-year history of successfully improving air quality nationwide.”

Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Newhouse agreed that the EPA’s recent NAAQS rule is “an unnecessary change” that puts American manufacturing, forestry, and other industries at risk.

“America already has stringent clean air standards and ranks in the top 20 globally in air quality,” said the congressman. “This new standard only serves to hamper prosperity across the country for negligible benefits while forcing businesses to close, increasing manufacturing costs, and inflicting harm to communities across the country.”

Among the members who also signed on to the letter are U.S. Reps. August Pfluger (R-TX), Carol Miller (R-WV), Kelly Armstrong (R-ND), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Troy Balderson (R-OH), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Mike Bost (R-IL), Dusty Johnson (R-SD), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Michael Burgess (R-TX), David Valadao (R-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), Blake Moore (R-UT), French Hill (R-AR), Mike Carey (R-OH), Glenn “GT” Thompson (R-PA), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Ron Estes (R-KS), Frank Lucas (R-OK), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mike Turner (R-OH), Pete Stauber (R-MN), Brad Wenstrup (R-OH), Bryan Steil (R-WI), and Darin LaHood (R-IL).