WASHINGTON (July 25, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced proposed updates to the Agency’s Air Emissions Reporting Requirements rule, including proposing to require reporting of hazardous air pollutants, or “air toxics.” Air toxics are known or suspected to cause cancer and other serious health effects. The proposed updates would ensure that EPA has readily available data to identify places where people are exposed to harmful air pollution and to develop solutions, aligning with the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to advancing environmental justice.
The proposal would revise the Air Emissions Reporting Requirements rule, which currently requires states to report emissions of common air pollutants, such as particulate matter, along with pollutants that contribute to their formation, such as ozone-forming volatile organic compounds (VOCs). While most states voluntarily report some air toxics emissions data to EPA now, that reporting is not consistent nationwide.
“Data and science are the very foundation of the work we do every day at EPA to protect public health and the environment,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “When we have the most recent, most accurate data on air toxics and other emissions, we can improve our identification of areas where people may be at risk from pollution, develop solutions and help ensure everyone has clean air to breathe.”
The data EPA receives under the rule forms the basis for the National Emissions Inventory. EPA uses information in the inventory as it develops and reviews regulations, conducts air quality modeling, and conducts risk assessments to understand how air pollution may affect the health of communities across the country, including those that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution. Other federal agencies, along with state, local, and tribal air agencies also use the data and information the inventory provides.
In addition to ensuring EPA has the data critical to identifying places where people are exposed to harmful air pollution, the proposal also would provide data that communities can use to understand the significant sources of air pollution that may be affecting them – including data on highly toxic chemicals that can cause cancer and other serious health problems. Collecting air toxics data will advance President Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, which includes a goal of preventing cancers by reducing environmental exposures to cancer-causing pollution.
The proposed rule would require nearly 130,000 facilities to report air toxics emissions directly to EPA. It would also give states the option to collect the air toxics data from industry and report it to EPA, provided the Agency approves their program. In addition, the proposal includes provisions to limit burden on small businesses, such as allowing certain small businesses to report total emissions of each air toxic instead of providing more detailed information.
EPA’s proposal also would improve other emissions data in other areas, by:
- Requiring certain facilities located in Tribal nations to report emissions if Tribes do not report them.
- Increasing reporting of common pollutants known as “criteria pollutants” by using the same emissions thresholds every year.
- Adding to the information that EPA and other federal and state agencies have available to understand the impacts of prescribed fires.
EPA will hold several informational webinars to provide background on the proposed rule and provide an opportunity for attendees to ask questions. The Agency will take written comment on the proposal for 70 days after it is published in the Federal Register. The Agency also will hold a virtual public hearing 21 days after the proposal is published in the Federal Register.