The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced that it would retain the current secondary National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur oxides (SOx). Under the Clean Air Act, secondary standards are established to protect the environment from certain emissions where primary standards are established to protect human health. The EPA noted in its fact sheet on the final rule that the independent Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) had recommended preserving the current standard based on its review of the available science.
NOx and SOx emissions come from a variety of natural and man-made sources including cars, trucks, buses, power plants, industrial facilities, waste incineration and agricultural sources. The fact sheet also stated that, “since 1980, levels of NOx and SOx in the air have fallen by more than 50 percent and more than 80 percent, respectively.” The resulting decrease has helped mitigate the impact of acid rain or acid deposition on the environment.
We are pleased that the EPA decided to maintain the current standards, but we urge caution as the Agency works to develop a new “multipollutant standard” for NOx and SOx that will also address acid rain deposition. Manufacturers have made great strides to reduce air emissions, and the last thing we need in this tough economy is another overly stringent standard that will do little to improve the environment.