version (PDF, 3 pp, 106 KB)
- EPA is working with several areas across the country to reduce ground-level
ozone, or smog, as quickly as possible. Together with EPA, these communities
entered into agreements called Early Action Compacts. These Compacts give areas
the flexibility to develop their own approach to meeting the 8-hour ozone standard,
provided they achieve clean air sooner than the Clean Air Act would otherwise
- Communities with Early Action Compacts are starting to reduce smog one to
two years sooner than required by the Clean Air Act.
- This voluntary program provides a flexible approach to reducing pollution
to help communities that do not meet the 8-hour ozone standard. As long as
these Early Action Compact areas meet agreed upon milestones to reduce ozone
pollution in their areas, certain Clean Air Act requirements, such as controls
on new sources, are deferred by EPA and will not apply.
- On June 2, 2005 EPA proposed to defer Clean Air Act requirements to
reduce ozone pollution for 14 Early Action Compact areas from September
30, 2005 to December 31, 2006
- EPA is proposing this deferral because the 14 areas met the milestone of
submitting State Implementation Plans consisting of a strategy to reduce smog
in their area. The plans all met the requirement to include all adopted control
measures that demonstrate attainment of the 8-hour ozone NAAQS by December
- This is the second time EPA has proposed to defer the date by which certain
Clean Air Act requirements become effective for the Early Action Compact areas.
EPA finalized the first deferral in April 2004 after the areas met a previous
- By reducing pollution ahead of schedule, these communities are bringing sustainable
health and environmental improvements to their residents sooner than would
have been achieved without these agreements.
- EPA will accept comment on this proposal through 30 days after publication
of the proposed rule in the Federal Register. After reviewing all comments,
the Agency anticipates issuing the final rule in September 2005.
- In April 2004, the EPA published a final rule designating areas of the country
as either meeting or not meeting the ground-level ozone National Ambient Air
Quality Standards (NAAQS), also called the 8-hour ozone NAAQS. If an area fails
to meet health-based national air quality standards, the Clean Air Act requires
an area to implement a number of efforts to improve air quality by a certain
- The Clean Air Act requires communities with air pollution levels that violate
- or contribute to the violations of - the national air quality standard
for ozone to
- be designated as not meeting the standard,
- have an EPA-approved plan in place to correct the problem, and
- attain each standard by specific dates.
- Early Action Compacts require communities to:
- Develop and implement air pollution control strategies,
- Account for emissions growth, and
- Achieve and maintain the national 8-hour ozone standard.
- Early Action Compact areas must attain the 8-hour ozone standard no
later than December 31, 2007. Any compact area that does not meet the
standard at that time will be designated as not meeting the standard by April
which will trigger the mandatory Clean Air Act requirements to reduce ground-level
- EPA will withdraw the deferral if an area misses any milestone set out in
the Early Action Compact.
- In addition to working with areas that are participating in Early Action
Compacts, EPA is also working with local governments, States and Tribes that
are not participating in an Early Action Compact to develop an implementation
strategy for the 8-hour ozone standard.
- Ground-level ozone - the primary component of smog - is formed in the atmosphere
on hot, sunny days. The main ingredients of ozone come from cars, trucks, power
plants, refineries and other large industrial facilities, and some natural
- When inhaled, even at very low levels, ozone can:
- cause acute respiratory problems;
- aggravate asthma;
- cause significant temporary decreases in lung capacity of 15 to over 20
percent in some healthy adults;
- cause inflammation of lung tissue;
- lead to hospital admissions and emergency room visits [10 to 20 percent
of all summertime respiratory-related hospital visits in the northeastern
U.S. are associated with ozone pollution]; and
- impair the body's immune system defenses, making people more susceptible
to respiratory illnesses, including bronchitis and pneumonia.
FOR MORE INFORMATION