Final Rule Published for Ozone Standards

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule revising the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for ozone has been published in the Federal Register.

As previously reported by NAHBNow, EPA revised the standard to 70 parts per billion (ppb) from the 75 ppb set in 2008.

Based on the agency’s 2012-2014 air quality monitoring data, there are at least 241 counties where current ozone levels exceed the newly revised 2015 standard (below).

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By comparison, 225 counties were designated as non-attainment under the 2008 standards (below).map

The final standard is likely to affect 14 of the top 20 housing markets, expanding its impact on new housing. More than 140 local HBAs are likely to be impacted – some for the first time, and some seeing more members affected. [See infographic for more details.]

Preliminary data offers some indication of what the impact will be: EPA will likely take final action based on updated air quality monitoring data. In addition, the counties without valid air quality monitors may be designated as nonattainment based on the status of neighboring counties’ air quality, even if those counties are in another state.

EPA projects that states will submit designation recommendations by Oct. 1, 2016. EPA will respond by June 1, 2017,indicating whether the agency intends to make any modifications and providing states an opportunity to comment and provide additional information. By Oct.1, 2017, EPA will issues final area designations,which are expected to be based on 2014-2016 air quality data.

While the overall impact of the final rule is mitigated in comparison to the full range of options considered by EPA under the proposal, the full scope of implementation issues may not be known until area designations are made final and state implementation plans are developed: It is at this stage when potential roadblocks to land development and building may be proposed.

By 2020-2021, states must provide their state implementation plans that outline how they will reduce emissions and meet the standard in non-attainment areas. EPA expects the implementation of other federal clean air rules, such as the Cross-State Air Pollution RuleMercury and Air Toxics Standards, Tier 3 Vehicle Emissions and Fuels Standards, and the Clean Power Plan, to have a significant impact on reducing ozone-forming pollution in the years ahead the requirements.

Regardless, areas designated non-attainment will be faced with adopting a suite of federal, state and local measures that are needed to demonstrate how the relevant nonattainment area can achieve the standard by the required deadline.

For more information, contact Tamra Spielvogel at 202-266-8327.

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