Air Quality Standards and Sound Science: What Role for CASAC? [Updated September 18, 2007]   [open pdf - 163KB]

"As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) completes its reviews of the ozone, particulate matter (PM), and lead air quality standards -- the PM review was completed in September 2006, and the ozone and lead reviews are due for completion in March and September 2008, respectively -- the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), an independent committee of scientists that advises the agency's Administrator, has been sharply critical of several of EPA's decisions. CASAC was established by statute in 1977. Its members, largely from academia and from private research institutes, are appointed by the EPA Administrator. They review the agency's work in setting National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS), relying on panels of the nation's leading experts on the health and environmental effects of the specific pollutants. CASAC panels have a nearly 30- year history of working quietly in the background, issuing what were called 'closure letters' on agency documents that summarize the science and the policy options behind the NAAQS. The science and policy documents, written by EPA staff, generally have gone through several iterations before the scientists were satisfied, but, with the issuance of a closure letter, CASAC has in past years removed itself from the process, leaving the final choice of standards to the Administrator."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL33807
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