Manufacturers sue EPA over soot rule

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is challenging the stronger standards on fine particulate matter, or soot, that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued in December.

NAM filed the lawsuit Friday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. 

The EPA rule that manufacturers are challenging would lower the annual exposure standard for soot to 12 micrograms per cubic meter, down from 15.

The rule was at the center of a years-long lobbying, legal and congressional battle in Washington. Many lawmakers on Capitol Hill had warned that the new standards would lead to job losses and harm the economy.

Public health advocates and environmental groups lauded the rule, which the EPA said would curb emissions of pollutants linked to respiratory and cardiovascular problems. The agency said the tougher standard would save billions in healthcare costs by averting premature deaths and heart and asthma attacks.

But NAM and other industry associations have called the rule restrictive and economically burdensome.

Republicans joined those calls, saying the rule would slow activity at soot emitters such as factories and power plants. They argued diesel vehicles, ships and other sources would be hard hit.

The EPA rejected those claims. It said the federal and state agencies already have mechanisms in place to meet the more stringent standard’s requirements.