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In the News

Clean Air Coalition seeks local emission reduction commitments

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Central Texas Clean Air Coalition (CAC), a regional collaboration of city and county governments in Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, is seeking commitments from local governments and other organizations in the region to implement local, voluntary measures to reduce ozone.

Remaining in compliance with federal ozone standards continues to be a high priority for this region, both to protect public health and to avoid the costly impacts of a “nonattainment” designation.

> Discover the Clean Air Coalition

Ozone Advance is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s latest effort to promote voluntary adoption and implementation of measures in areas close to violating the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone. The region’s Ozone Advance Program Action Plan will be the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area’s fourth voluntary air quality plan, replacing the  8-O3 Flex Plan when it expires Dec. 31, 2013.

Reducing ozone levels provides health benefits for children, seniors, and people with chronic respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis. If an area is designated “nonattainment” for ozone, consequences could prove serious for the regional economy, including new constraints on transportation planning, strict limits on industrial growth and a host of costly pollution regulations. It also would result in the loss of local control of air quality planning and would impose new costs on the state in preparing implementation plans for the region. 

> Learn more about Ozone Advance

In 2012, the region was only 2 parts per billion away from being out of compliance with the three-year average the EPA uses to determine if areas are in attainment, also called the “design value.” With the EPA now considering tightening the standard to a range of 60 to 70 ppb, additional efforts will be needed to ensure the region’s continued compliance. Previous local air quality plans have been a critical component of the success the region has enjoyed in twice avoiding nonattainment designations for stricter ozone standards – years 2004 and 2012 – and the 17 percent reduction in the region’s design value from 89 ppb in 1999 to 74 ppb in 2012. 

The CAC will collect commitments for the action plan through Nov. 15 and, during its Dec. 11 meeting, will consider the plan’s adoption and submission to the EPA. Over the next month, jurisdictions currently participating in the CAC are scheduling time on their agendas to consider which measures to implement for the new plan. The City of Cedar Park on Oct. 3 was the first CAC member to pass a resolution with commitments for the plan. 

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Priority measures the CAC has identified include reducing emissions from fleet vehicles and equipment; implementing commuter trip reduction programs; improving enforcement of existing regulations; planning for transportation emission reduction measures; implementing Ozone Action Day programs; and annually tracking and reporting electricity, gas and fuel consumption. Any measures local jurisdictions or other organizations are willing to commit to will be included in the region’s new action plan. 

Area businesses, organizations and jurisdictions that aren't CAC members but want to add their own pollution-reduction commitments to the plan can send them to Andrew Hoekzema, CAPCOG air quality program manager, by Oct. 31. > Go

> Get the CAC Advisory Committee's list of Ozone Advance recommendations

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