API: New NO2 standard politically charged

By Nicholas Zeman | January 19, 2010
Posted January 27, 2010

Fighting short-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is a new priority for the U.S. EPA. The agency announced on Jan. 25 that a "new one-hour standard will protect millions of Americans from peak short term exposures, which primarily occur near major roads," and that the threat was linked to increased respiratory infections and impaired lung functions, especially for those who suffer from asthma.

The American Petroleum Institute responded immediately, issuing a statement the same day, which accused EPA of using "faulty science" to establish the new standard.

"EPA rushed to a decision without completing a thorough review of the science in a manner that allowed proper public participation. Today's standard is bad public policy and does not justify the additional economic burdens placed on consumers, states and industries," API stated. "There is no significant evidence that the short-term NO2 standard established today by the administrator is necessary to protect public health. EPA is over-regulating this air quality standard for political-not health-reasons."

"Refineries and biorefineries could have to put in additional NOx controls at considerable cost," Howard Feldman of API told Biodiesel Magazine. "EPA in general has a set of programs that are burdening industrial sources, to what purpose I can't speculate. But they are in the process of revising all of their ambient air quality standards, and that is unprecedented." Feldman didn't elaborate on why API believes this new standard is politically motivated.

The new one-hour standard for NO2 is set at 100 parts per billion (ppb). The ruling puts pressure on vehicle manufacturers, power plants and other industrial emitters-such as petroleum companies-to change its practices. NO2 is a component of NOx and meeting the new standard may influence some fleet owners and municipalities to buy 2010 model or later diesel vehicles that are equipped with diesel particulate filters and NOx traps.

Now, monitoring will be required by EPA to measure NO2 levels near roadways in cities with at least 500,000 residents. "Working with the states, EPA will site at least 40 monitors in locations to help protect communities that are susceptible and vulnerable to elevated levels of NO2," the agency said.

For more information from EPA, click here.
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