For Immediate Release

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Soon To Be Former EPA Administrator Burns the American People One More Time Before Leaving

WASHINGTON - Former coal lobbyist turned EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler ignored the recommendations of EPA scientists and public health experts today by finalizing his proposal to not correct the legal limit for dangerous particulate matter pollution, also known as soot. Wheeler instead decided to retain a flawed 2012 standard despite medical evidence that the 2012 standard fails to protect public health. 

The current 2012 standard is 12 micrograms per cubic meter and current levels of particulate matter pollution result in over 52,000 premature deaths a year. EPA’s own scientists estimate that correcting the standard to 9 micrograms per cubic meter, or 25 percent stronger than the current limit, could prevent 12,500 premature deaths annually. An even stronger annual standard of 8 micrograms per cubic meter would save even more lives. But Wheeler ignored the recommendations from his own scientists, choosing instead to keep the erroneous EPA’s annual standard in place, allowing coal plants and other polluting facilities to foul our air to the current unsafe level.

In response, Al Armendariz, Sierra Club’s Senior Director of Federal Campaigns, released the following statement:  

“Soon to be former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has chosen to burn the American people one more time before he leaves office by again refusing to follow the science, medical evidence, or any moral compass. Soot is one of the most understood, most dangerous pollutants around, and despite mountains of evidence that scientists and public health experts have provided him, Wheeler has refused to protect the public from soot’s frightening health consequences. 

“As a result,  low income communities and communities of color will bear the brunt of Wheeler’s heartless decision. The people most in need of strong science based standards are the ones who will suffer. It’s no wonder the American people decided to reject the Trump Administration’s agenda. We look forward to the next Administration following the scientific evidence and setting the air quality standard that meets legal requirements to protect public health.”



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The Sierra Club is the oldest and largest grassroots environmental organization in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892 in San Francisco, California by the well-known conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada.

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