“Review Lite.” The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) completed review on nine proposed or final rules last week, the most significant of which were the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) particulate matter revision under court order and a reconsideration of the chemical manufacturing area sources by proposed rule. The Department of Transportation (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) even data records for light vehicles, a subject that has proved difficult in heavy trucks. Agencies submitted seven new proposed and final rules for review.
EPA Particulate Matter: EPA noticed on its website the release of its Review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Particulate Matter final rule on Friday, December 14, 2012. (Unfortunately, the link does not (as of this writing) reach the document, but only the index page, but EPA will fix it, and the sublink may now (as of your reading) open the typescript of the final rule.) The key change reduces the annual health National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particles to 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3) from 15 μg/m3, according to EPA’s press release. EPA appears to retain the 24-hour fine particle standard of 35 μg/m3 and the existing standards for coarse particle pollution (PM10).
EPA (through the Department of Justice (DOJ) agreed to a consent decree in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia to sign the final rule by December 14. OMB may or may not have agreed to such a deadline – and meetings with advocates and manufacturers continued as late as December 12.
♦EPA estimates that the health benefits vastly outweigh the costs and provides a lengthy regulatory impact assessment, although EPA argues that this is discretionary and EPA may not consider cost. While EPA focuses on industrial “soot,” it faces a significant problem of separating (and de-demonizing) this rule from “farm dust” and other naturally occurring “particulate matter.” As with most such rules, EPA can directly monetize costs, but benefits are more theoretical – leading to doubt, and probably litigation.
EPA Chemical Manaufacturing: OMB completed review of the Reconsideration of Chemical Manufacturing Area Sources National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants [NESHAP]; Amendments, supplemental proposed rule on December 14. EPA published a NESHAP for chemical manufacturing area sources on October 29, 2009, including requirements for nine source categories. On a petition for reconsideration from the manufacturers, EPA stayed the final rule and granted reconsideration of six of the categories; the petition argued that the six categories were insufficiently described and were not logical outgrowths of the original proposed rule. Therefore, this proposed rule seeks public comment on the categories under reconsideration.
♦EPA has not yet released this supplemental proposed rule.
DOT Light Vehicle Events: The DOT NHTSA published its Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards; Event Data Recorders proposed rule on December 13, 2012. Most “light duty” vehicles today have been voluntarily equipped with event data recorders (EDRs), but not all; NHTSA proposes to make EDRs mandatory on all light vehicles manufactured on or after September 1, 2014.
Privacy concerns are likely to be raised during the public comment period, which ends February 11, 2012, but the actual penetration rate (the baseline for this rule) is already high because manufacturers began installing EDRs in light duty vehicles after voluntary standards were set in 2006. Industry voluntary development (for many purposes) reduces the cost to unimpressive:
The cost for an EDR is estimated to be $20 per vehicle. The estimated total incremental costs associated with this proposal would be $26.4 million (2010 dollars), which is measured from a baseline of 91.6 percent EDR installation to 100 percent installation, assuming the sale of 16.5 million light vehicles per year [covered by the weight rating]. This cost reflects the need for technology improvements, as well as assembly costs, compliance costs, and paperwork maintenance costs for those 1.32 million vehicles …. that do not have EDRs. Technological improvements account for the majority of these costs.