The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

New NO2 Standard Based on Politics, Not Science

Jane Van Ryan

Jane Van Ryan
Posted January 25, 2010

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a new national air quality standard for nitrogen dioxide (NO2). According to EPA's news release, the new one-hour standard of 100 parts-per-billion (ppb) will "reduce health threats for millions of Americans"--particularly in urban areas near major roadways.

But how strong is the link between NO2 at the level proposed and health? Not very. Today API said the new NO2 standard is based on "faulty science."

"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," API said in a statement. "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."

EPA apparently is adamant about enforcing the new requirement. It is establishing new monitoring rules that will measure NO2 levels near roadways in cities with at least 500,000 residents. Additional monitors will be required in larger cities and along major roadways. EPA is retaining the current annual average NO2 standard of 53 ppb.

"National ambient NO2 concentrations are well below the current annual standard, and continue to be reduced with new industrial and motor vehicle requirements," API said, irrespective of today's EPA actions. "Since 1990, the oil and natural gas industry has invested more than $175 billion towards improving the environmental performance of its products, facilities and operations, and many of the investments in cleaner fuels will continue to improve air quality in the years ahead."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jane Van Ryan was formerly senior communications manager and new media advisor at the American Petroleum Institute (API), where she wrote blog posts and produced podcasts and videos. Before coming to API, Jane managed communications for a large science and engineering corporation, and for a top-tier research and engineering university. A few years ago, you might have seen her in your living room when she delivered the news on television. Jane officially retired from API in 2011 and now freelances as an independent communications consultant when not gardening at her farm in Virginia.