Communities Pondering New EPA Ozone Rule

By March 17, 2008Global Warming

The Environmental Protection Agency’s stricter ozone standard has communities around the nation wondering whether they have what it takes to meet the proposed new standard.

Critics of EPA’s decision to lower allowable ozone levels to 75 parts per billion from the current 80 parts per billion say the move is unnecessary. America’s skies are clearer and the current standard needs more time to work.

The new rule would impose higher costs on communities with little to no health benefits for Americans, critics contend. In fact, some areas that have seen air improve say it will be difficult to meet the new standard.

“It’s sort of like moving the goal post back a little bit,” said Dan Salkovitz, a meteorologist at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. “It doesn’t mean the air quality has gotten worse, it means the air quality standard is stricter.”

Salkovitz was quoted in this story on Richmond’s NBC Channel 12 Web site.

A story in the Idaho Business News says it will take an “extraordinary effort” to meet the new standard in the state’s Treasure Valley region.

In other parts of the United States, communities where air is clean enough to meet current rules wouldn’t pass muster under EPA’s proposed standard. That’s the case in Arizona’s Pima and Pinal counties, according to an Arizona Daily Star story. Officials in Pima are already trying to figure out how they would regain compliance — and what would happen if they do not.

“Pima County officials have said a tougher inspection program for vehicle emissions, cleaner-burning gasoline and programs to promote less driving or more use of alternative fuel may eventually be necessary to bring local air into compliance. Otherwise, the county theoretically could lose federal highway money — years down the line — although that penalty is rarely enforced.”

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