June 30, 2017
On June 6, 2017 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced Administrator Scott Pruitt sent a letter to governors to inform them of EPA’s efforts related to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ozone promulgated in October 2015. EPA is extending the deadline for promulgating initial area designations, by one year – until October 1, 2018 – for the 2015 ozone NAAQS.
The NAAQS for ground-level ozone is an outdoor air regulation under the Clean Air Act. The 2015 standard was issued on October 26, 2015 and tightened the existing 2008 standard from 75 ppb to 70 ppb.
In general, EPA is required to issue designations within two years of publication of a new standard. Designations for the 2015 standard were originally due by this October, and EPA would have been required to preview for the states its intended designations at least 120 days in advance of the October deadline – by this August, according to a June 21, 2017 Troutman Sanders report.
Areas designated as being in “nonattainment” of the standard face consequences, including: increased regulatory burdens, restrictions on infrastructure investment, and increased costs to businesses.
EPA is giving states more time to develop air quality plans and EPA is looking at providing greater flexibility to states as they develop their plans. And, pursuant to the language in the recently-enacted FY2017 Omnibus funding bill, Administrator Pruitt is establishing an Ozone Cooperative Compliance Task Force to develop additional flexibilities for states to comply with the ozone standard.
Additionally, the Agency is taking time to better understand some lingering, complicated issues so that air attainment decisions can be based on the latest and greatest information. This additional time will also provide the agency time to review the 2015 ozone NAAQS, prior to taking this initial implementation step.
Although the new ozone standard was set on October 1, 2015, there remains a host of complex issues that could undermine associated compliance efforts by states and localities. The Agency is evaluating these issues, primarily focused on:
- Fully understanding the role of background ozone levels
- Appropriately accounting for international transport
- Timely consideration of exceptional events demonstrations.
Since 1980, total emissions of the six principal air pollutants have dropped by 63 percent and ozone levels have declined by 33 percent. Despite the continued improvement of air quality, costs associated with compliance of the ozone NAAQS have significantly increased, says EPA.
What this means to you
EPA is extending the deadline for promulgating initial area NAAQS designations of the October 2015 ozone standard by one year – until October 1, 2018.
MIRATECH can help.
Contact MIRATECH to discuss controls for NOx and VOC stationary engine emissions. Ozone is caused by a chemical reaction between NOx and VOCs in the presence of sunlight.