May 25, 2010

National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Lead

Proposed Rule
Summary

Score: 42 / 60

Additional details
Agency
Environmental Protection Agency
Regulatory Identification Number
2060-AN83
Agency Name
Environmental Protection Agency
Rule Publication Date
05/20/2008

RULE SUMMARY

Based on its review of the air quality criteria and national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) for lead (Pb), EPA is making revisions to the primary and secondary NAAQS for Pb to provide requisite protection of public health and welfare, respectively. With regard to the primary standard, EPA is revising the level to 0.15 μg/m3. EPA is retaining the current indicator of Pb in total suspended particles (Pb-TSP). EPA is revising the averaging time to a rolling 3-month period with a maximum (not-to-be-exceeded) form, evaluated over a 3-year period. EPA is revising the secondary standard to be identical in all respects to the revised primary standard. EPA is also revising data handling procedures, including allowance for the use of Pb-PM10 data in certain circumstances, and the treatment of exceptional events, and ambient air monitoring and reporting requirements for Pb, including those related to sampling and analysis methods, network design, sampling schedule, and data reporting. Finally, EPA is revising emissions inventory reporting requirements and providing guidance on its approach for implementing the revised primary and secondary standards for Pb.

METHODOLOGY

There are twelve criteria within our evaluation within three broad categories: Openness, Analysis and Use. For each criterion, the evaluators assign a score ranging from 0 (no useful content) to 5 (comprehensive analysis with potential best practices). Thus, each analysis has the opportunity to earn between 0 and 60 points.

Criterion Score

Openness

1. How easily were the RIA , the proposed rule, and any supplementary materials found online?
The RIA is accessible in the same Docket ID as the ruling, but it is buried far back amongst other supporting material (required more than ten clicks). This is partially a result of filing public comments and RIAs under the same category, "supporting & related materials" in the docket. EPA's website documents that the RIA existed (although this required some creative searching) but it could not be downloaded.
2/5
2. How verifiable are the data used in the analysis?
The RIA has a working hyperlink to data archives.
5/5
3. How verifiable are the models and assumptions used in the analysis?
It includes links to staff papers and discussions, but they are not obviously peer-reviewed. The assessment tool made for and clearly discussed in this analysis is not helpful because of lack of data in some regions and lack of good simulations for PB.
3/5
4. Was the analysis comprehensible to an informed layperson?
The analysis contains somewhat tough content, but even with the complexity of air models, the RIA was fairly accessible. An economist would understand all of it. Most of the analysis is clear and understandable (light on acronyms, what little technical jargon that is used is well explained, some charts and graphs) to a layperson. The analysis is well-organized and easy to follow with good use of figures.
4/5

Analysis

5. How well does the analysis identify the desired outcomes and demonstrate that the regulation will achieve them?
5/5
Does the analysis clearly identify ultimate outcomes that affect citizens’ quality of life?
Yes, it identifies increased health, more natural IQ development in children under the age of 7, decreased lead in blood, etc.
5/5
Does the analysis identify how these outcomes are to be measured?
Lead concentrations (intermediate outcome affecting IQ) are and will be measured. Some areas lack monitoring equipment, as the RIA noted.
4/5
Does the analysis provide a coherent and testable theory showing how the regulation will produce the desired outcomes?
A clear and testable theory is presented: Emissions controls will reduce point-source emissions. Details on various controls and scenarios are given.
5/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
Yes, similar measurements and tests have been done with mercury, for instance. It's apparent that the RIA has the most recent and best information available for the theory.
5/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the outcomes?
IQ benefits outcomes are acknowledged to be uncertain and different possibilities discussed. The analysis presents a range to take into account how the various thresholds of the regulation would affect the size of the outcome. Even more information appears to be coming in the final RIA, however.
4/5
6. How well does the analysis identify and demonstrate the existence of a market failure or other systemic problem the regulation is supposed to solve?
4/5
Does the analysis identify a market failure or other systemic problem?
Assertion of externality—airborne lead, generated in various industrial processes, at high enough levels may cause children's IQs to decrease.
5/5
Does the analysis outline a coherent and testable theory that explains why the problem (associated with the outcome above) is systemic rather than anecdotal?
Support for lead's effect on children's IQ levels is given; data on lead levels at various monitoring stations across the nation show that lead is systemically extant in the air. The theory that lowering the levels could improve IQ is coherent and testable.
5/5
Does the analysis present credible empirical support for the theory?
Data for many of the monitoring zones is presented, showing airborne lead in many areas above the proposed level. The RIA mentions much missing data and proposes compiling more before the final version.
3/5
Does the analysis adequately assess uncertainty about the existence or size of the problem?
The current state is only partially known through monitors. The RIA notes that there is significant uncertainty in the monitoring data, as monitoring does not exist in many areas. It is not clear what EPA plans to do about this uncertainty.
2/5
7. How well does the analysis assess the effectiveness of alternative approaches?
4/5
Does the analysis enumerate other alternatives to address the problem?
Alternative NAAQS are considered, as well as baseline of status quo. Eliminating NAAQS altogether (no government standard) is not considered.
4/5
Is the range of alternatives considered narrow (e.g., some exemptions to a regulation) or broad (e.g., performance-based regulation vs. command and control, market mechanisms, nonbinding guidance, information disclosure, addressing any government failures that caused the original problem)?
No market mechanisms or other, non-NAAQS options are considered. Statutory limitations influence that, though.
3/5
Does the analysis evaluate how alternative approaches would affect the amount of the outcome achieved?
The analysis provides a thorough examination of alternative NAAQS and their various effects on children's IQ levels.
5/5
Does the analysis adequately address the baseline? That is, what the state of the world is likely to be in the absence of federal intervention not just now but in the future?
The baseline is assumed to be 2002 NAAQS compliance levels, not 2007 or 2008 (shortcoming acknowledged and will hopefully be addressed in the final RIA).
3/5
8. How well does the analysis assess costs and benefits?
3/5
Does the analysis identify and quantify incremental costs of all alternatives considered?
Many assumptions are required in order to estimate marginal costs of existing and future control technologies.
3/5
Does the analysis identify all expenditures likely to arise as a result of the regulation?
Direct engineering expenditure costs are thoroughly identified or assumed when necessary.
5/5
Does the analysis identify how the regulation would likely affect the prices of goods and services?
It provides cost estimates for metal mining, steel works, etc.; energy impact costs are considered; effects on prices for consumers of metal-intensive goods are not considered.
3/5
Does the analysis examine costs that stem from changes in human behavior as consumers and producers respond to the regulation?
Not at all—only engineering costs to specific industries are considered. There is no market equilibrium analysis.
0/5
If costs are uncertain, does the analysis present a range of estimates and/or perform a sensitivity analysis?
Engineering costs seem fairly certain in the RIA—but they may not be. There is relatively little sensitivity analysis on cost side.
3/5
Does the analysis identify the alternative that maximizes net benefits?
Though not explicitly identified, it is obviously calculable given the costs and benefits estimates.
2/5
Does the analysis identify the cost-effectiveness of each alternative considered?
Cost-effectiveness is never directly addressed, but again it could be easily calculated given the RIA.
2/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would bear costs and assess the incidence of costs?
The analysis identifies industries that would bear costs, but not their customers or other general equilibrium effects.
2/5
Does the analysis identify all parties who would receive benefits and assess the incidence of benefits?
Primarily children, of perhaps certain ages, benefit in the form of higher IQ; regional differences in benefits are discussed; adults may accrue some health benefits but more research needed.
4/5

Use

9. Does the proposed rule or the RIA present evidence that the agency used the analysis?
It actually presents evidence that it didn't: "The RIA contains illustrative analyses that consider a limited number of emissions control scenarios that States and Regional Planning Organizations might implement to achieve these alternative Pb NAAQS. However, the CAA and judicial decisions make clear that the economic and technical feasibility of attaining ambient standards are not to be considered in setting or revising NAAQS, although such factors may be considered in the development of State plans to implement the standards. Accordingly, although an RIA has been prepared, the results of the RIA have not been considered in issuing this final rule." This seems to be a legal block on the use of the RIA to affect a major decision. Therefore, the score has been given based on this criterion: The agency may have used analysis of benefits to help in some decisions but not costs or benefit-cost comparisons.
2/5
10. Did the agency maximize net benefits or explain why it chose another alternative?
No; it merely refers to how the RIA considered various options, without much more explanation on why an option was chosen other than referring to CAA and judicial decisions (see above).
3/5
11. Does the proposed rule establish measures and goals that can be used to track the regulation's results in the future?
It suggests more monitoring stations to track Pb and PM levels—future data needs to get better. It is not clear that EPA will attempt to assess health outcomes, probably only intermediate Pb concentration outcomes. It appears that the performance of the regulation is dependent upon the performance of future data collection procedure and vigilance: "This section of the proposed rule also required that in the future Pb data be reported in terms of local temperature and pressure conditions, but provided that Pb data collected prior to January 1, 2009 and reported to AQS in terms of standard temperature and pressure conditions would be compared directly to the level of the NAAQS without readjustment to local conditions, unless the monitoring agency voluntarily resubmitted them with such adjustment. Finally, this section provided for the taking of make-up samples within seven days after a scheduled sampling day fails to produce valid data. It also specified that all data, including scheduled samples, make-up samples, and any extra samples (i.e., nonscheduled samples that are not eligible to be considered make-up samples because they either were taken too long after the missed sample or another nonscheduled sample is already being used as the make-up sample) would be used in calculating the monthly average concentration."
4/5
12. Did the agency indicate what data it will use to assess the regulation's performance in the future and establish provisions for doing so?
Yes, among other mentions of possible future assessments, EPA says this, so they're at least considering it, making this somewhat relevant for discussion: "We proposed XRF as the FRM analysis method because we believe that it has several advantages which make it a desirable analysis method. XRF does not require sample preparation or extraction with acids prior to analysis. It is a non-destructive method; therefore, the sample is not destroyed during analysis and can be archived for future re-analysis if needed." The RIA does a better job than the rule of indicating the data it will use.
3/5
 
Total 42 / 60