The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the voluntary clean-air program "PM Advance" that helps communities target emissions of fine particulat matter, or PM.
On Dec. 14, the EPA revised its national PM 2.5 standards to 12 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3). The update is the first since 1997. EPA said the new standard will "have major economic benefits with comparatively low costs," with an estimate of $4 billion to $9 billion in annual health benefits each year.
PM Advance aims to help attainment areas reduce emissions in order to ensure continued health protection, better position areas to remain in attainment and efficiently direct available resources toward actions to address ozone and fine particle problems quickly. States, tribes and local governments are eligible to sign up areas that are not designated nonattainment for either the 1997 eight-hour or the 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). A measure of PM Advance includes further reductions of school bus emissions via retrofit programs.
Congress has authorized programs to provide limited funding for local grants, a new school bus rebate program and state programs that promote or pay for EPA verified emission reduction technologies. But NSTA pointed out in its recent newsletter that the new voluntary program does not provide any additional funding.
"NSTA will carefully monitor the new program to make sure it remains voluntary and not a backdoor regulatory program that could result in additional costs to operators or the districts they work for," the association added.