I spoke at an EPA hearing on National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) on May 22, 2020. The following is a transcrpt of my testimony: 

Hi, my name is Skye Borden. I live in Missoula, Montana, and I am the director of the statewide advocacy group Environment Montana. I am testifying today because I think that the EPA should strengthen particulate matter pollution standards.

My hometown of Missoula has come a long way toward improving air quality, but we still experience far too many dirty air days. Our winter inversions act like a big blanket, trapping air pollution down in the valley for days and even weeks. And, in addition to pollution from man-made sources, we also have to contend with aggressive summer wildfire seasons that fill our valley with smoke.

Particulate pollution has been linked to a variety of health problems, including lung disease, bronchitis and cancer.

The science is clear that our current standards are too lax. Research shows that tightening standards on particulate pollution could save tens of thousands of lives. And the EPA’s own staff agree. Just last September, the EPA staffers concluded that the evidence warranted strengthened standards.

Now, because of Covid-19, the stakes are even higher: clean air is more important to our health than ever. A recent Harvard study found that the risk of death from covid-19 is increased by exposure to particulates.

Allowing the current particulate pollution level to continue, at a time when we have the technology and the need to reduce it, is reckless. It simply isn’t worth the risk.

I strongly encourage the EPA to follow the advice of experts – including the experts within its own staff – and strengthen these regulations to protect our health.

Thank you.