Black Carbon continues to garner interest for its potential effects on climate change. Unlike greenhouse gases, black carbon is a “sooty” particulate emitted from sources of combustion. Also, given the potential “near term” impact of black carbon on climate change (posited by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), reductions in black carbon could theoretically provide a more immediate impact on the effects of climate change.
For these reasons, on October 18, 2011, EPA announced that it was awarding more than $6.6 million dollars in grants to fund U.S. university research of black carbon. Details on the eight studies selected for funding are available as well. There is clearly an emphasis on the potential relationships between black carbon and climate change. With this funding, EPA is potentially foreshadowing an expansion of climate change-based regulation to include emissions of black carbon in addition to the “traditional” greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases.
While climate change-based regulation of black carbon is likely still years away, the momentum toward this outcome appears to be building. Further, given the overlapping regulation of particulate matter in other EPA air programs (e.g., EPA is currently reviewing the stringency of its National Ambient Air Quality Standards for particulate matter given the reported links to negative health effects), one may view the stricter regulation of black carbon as an inevitability.