What happened: In 2012, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) directed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to ignore their science-based recommendations and set a particulate matter air pollution standard at a less health-protective level. Specifically, according to emails obtained by the Washington Post, the EPA recommended that National Ambient Air Quality Standards be set at an annual standard of 12 micrograms per cubic meter for fine particulate matter (particulate matter less than less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter). OMB pressed the EPA to change this standard to between 12 and 13 micrograms per cubic meter.
Why it matters: The Clean Air Act’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards is required by law to be based solely on scientific evidence and the OMB, by pressing for a different standard, thwarted the main way we use science to limit emissions of particulate matter air pollution across the country.
Learn more about how the White House under the Obama administration pressured the EPA to allow a standard out of line with what the best available science suggests is the optimal standard to protect people from this dangerous air pollutant.