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In the News

Central Texas Clean Air Coalition offers EPA ideas on proposed ozone standards

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC) last week submitted a comment letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on its proposed ozone standards. The comment letter addresses regional concerns by providing ideas on how to implement the standard.

EPA’s proposal would change the national ground-level ozone standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to between 65 and 70 ppb. The CAC has enacted many voluntary actions to reduce the region’s ground-level ozone. The CAC consists of city and county officials throughout the Austin-Round Rock Metropolitan Statistical Area – Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties.

Thanks in part to its efforts the Austin-Round Rock MSA has remained in attainment of the current standard and would be in attainment of a standard set as high as 70 ppb. However, if EPA sets the standard at 65 ppb, the MSA’s ozone levels may not be able to reach that level until after EPA has proposed to designate areas as “nonattainment.” New regulations on industrial expansion, road construction, and other activities could have significant economic consequences for the region if Central Texas is designated nonattainment.

The comment letter asked the EPA to consider the following:

  • Use a more stable measurement for determining if an area’s ozone levels comply with the standard than what is currently in use; 
  • Exercise the flexibility that exists in the Clean Air Act in the designation process, possibly designating areas as unclassifiable or extending the process by a year if a region’s ozone levels are close to the standard; 
  • Ensure adequate controls on interstate and intrastate ozone transport; and
  • For any new nonattainment areas, fully account for voluntarily adopted emission reductions that are already in place.

The comment period for the standard began in December and will end March 17. The EPA is under a court order to finalize the standard by Oct. 1, 2015.

> Review CAC’s EPA comment letter and its technical support document.
> Read more about the Clean Air Coalition.

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