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The US strengthens air quality rule for soot

A plume of smoke rises from a smoke stack as the sun rises
Emission rise from a smoke stack at the Essex County Resource Recovery Waste-to-Energy Facility on January 21, 2024, in Newark, New Jersey. | Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a significantly stricter standard today for fine particle pollution, commonly referred to as soot. It’s the first time in twelve years that the agency has updated the rule to reflect current science and the culmination of a power struggle that has spanned three presidential administrations.

Tackling this kind of pollution is like battling a dragon with many heads — it comes from power plants, factories, vehicles, wildfires, and anything else you can imagine that produces soot. That’s made this rule a major target for both health advocates pushing for more protective policies and industries lobbying to keep current, more lax regulations in place.

For now, at least, health advocates are…

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