19 Cities Still Miss the Mark on Ozone Standard

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must decide by Oct. 1 whether to revise the national emission standard for ozone, potentially limiting some construction activities in areas that don’t meet that standard.

In preparation, EPA transmitted the rule to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for review Aug. 28, giving OMB just over a month to complete its assessment.

The Clean Air Act requires EPA to set standards for ozone and five other pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment and regularly review and update them.

As the deadline approaches, EPA continues to move forward with implementation of the current standard, most recently releasing determinations regarding the status of 36 non-attainment areas.

Under the current 2008 ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS), the 36 marginal non-attainment areas had until July 20, 2015 to meet the 75 parts per billion (ppb) ozone standard. On Aug. 27, EPA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register finding that:

  • 17 of the areas attained the NAAQS
  • 8 areas were eligible for a 1-year extension
  • 11 areas failed to attain NAAQS but are not eligible for an extension. EPA is reclassifying them as “Moderate” for the 2008 ozone NAAQS.

 

While reclassification provides areas a longer timeline to come into compliance with the standard it also applies more stringent requirements, such as tighter permit limits for sources, in these non-attainment areas. Furthermore, subsequent to the reclassification states must submit a State Implementation Plan revision for impacted non-attainment areas.

However, many of the areas receiving new designations in this proposal face the real likelihood of once again being designated non-attainment should EPA revise the ozone standard in October. Of the 17 areas found to have attained the 2008 ozone NAAQS only four of those areas could potentially meet EPA’s proposed standard based on the most recent air quality monitoring data available.

timelineUntil EPA issues a final decision on revising the ozone standard the playing field remains the same for states implementing the current 2008 standard. However, once a new standard is set, the clock starts ticking on a series of mandatory actions the Clean Air Act sets in motion for EPA and the states to implement the standard. See the timeline (left).

For additional information on the Ozone NAAQS process, contact Tamra Spielvogel at 800-368-5242 x8327.

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