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Ground-level Ozone

Fact Sheet - Managing Ozone Air Quality: Findings on Failure to Submit Elements of 1997 Ozone NAAQS State Implementation Plan

ACTION

  • On March 17, 2008, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued findings that 11 states missed Clean Air Act deadlines for submitting elements of their State Implementation Plans (SIPs). The deadlines are for submitting complete plans showing how they will meet the 1997 ozone standards; they are not deadlines for meeting those standards.
  • These elements are an attainment demonstration, a reasonable further progress plan, and a reasonably available control technology plan.
  • Today, EPA has taken a separate action that helps ensure that all states have in place the basic program requirements for attaining the 1997 ozone air standards; For more information please see www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/fs20080317b.html.
  • The plans that were due are known as state implementation plans, or SIPs, and are required by States in one or more of the following situations:
    • States with ozone nonattainment areas: these areas must submit SIPs to show how those areas will meet the ozone standard by their attainment dates.
    • States in the Ozone Transport Region (OTR): the Clean Air Act set out specific requirements for a group of northeast states that make up the OTR. States in this region are required to submit a SIP and install a certain level of controls for the pollutants that form ozone, even if they meet the ozone standards.
  • For ozone nonattainment areas, the Clean Air Act requires EPA to start three timetables, known as "clocks" once these findings are published in the Federal Register. The three clocks include two sanctions clocks, and a deadline for EPA to issue federal implementation plans (FIPs). These clocks range from 18 months to two years.
  • For areas currently attaining the standard, but falling within the Ozone Transport Region, this finding of failure to submit starts the emission offset sanction clock and the FIP clock. Because these areas are attaining the 1997 ozone standard, this finding does not start the highway fund sanction clock.
  • Sanctions will not apply to states that submit complete SIPs before these clocks run out and EPA will not issue FIPs for states with plans approved before the FIP deadline. EPA is working with these states to ensure that they submit revised, approvable plans as soon as possible.
  • EPA has proposed a clean air determination for New York and finalized a clean air determination for New Hampshire. These determinations, when finalized, will suspend certain SIP requirements and any active sanction clocks as long as the areas maintain clean air.

The Clocks

  • Emission offset sanctions (18 months): Under emission offset sanctions, a state must ensure that each ton of emissions created by a new stationary source of pollution is offset by a two ton reduction in existing stationary sources. These offset requirements would apply in areas designated as nonattainment for the ozone standard. Emission offset sanctions will not apply to states that submit complete SIPs within 18 months after these findings are published in the Federal Register.
  • Highway fund sanctions (two years): Under highway fund sanctions, a state can lose funding for transportation projects if the funds have not been obligated by the Federal Highway Administration by the date the highway sanctions are imposed. (Projects that have already received approval to proceed and had funds obligated may proceed.) Highway sanctions will not apply to states that submit complete SIPs within 24 months of publication of these findings.
  • Federal Implementation Plans (two years): Under a FIP, EPA, not the state, determines what steps must be taken to meet the standard. For the FIP clock to be turned off, EPA must approve the SIPs within 24 months of publication of these findings.

BACKGROUND

  • Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) cook in the sun. Ozone exposure is linked to acute respiratory problems, aggravated asthma, reduced lung capacity, inflamed lung tissue, and impairment of the bodys immune system.
  • SIPs include a number of documents and programs designed to address ground level ozone pollution. These findings apply to three plan elements: an attainment demonstration, the Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) elements and the Reasonable Further Progress (RFP) element.

    Attainment demonstration

    • States with nonattainment areas are required to analyze the potential of those areas to meet the 1997 ozone standard. The state uses air quality models and other relevant technical information to demonstrate its ability to achieve the air quality standard by a certain date. (In the findings issued March 17, 2008, states with ozone nonattainment areas classified as moderate or higher are required to show they can meet the standard as expeditiously as practicable, but no later than the statutory attainment date for the respective classification. These attainment demonstrations were due to EPA in June 2007.)

    Reasonably Available Control Technology

    • The Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) SIP element identifies certain levels of air pollution control for existing stationary sources of NOx and VOCs. RACT is defined as the lowest emissions limitation that a particular emissions source is capable of meeting with control technology that is reasonably available, considering technological and economic feasibility. The RACT requirement also applies to all areas in the Ozone Transport Region, regardless of the areas designation for the 1997 ozone standard. This SIP element was due to EPA in September 2006.

    Reasonable Further Progress

    • SIPs must also provide for steady progress, also known as Reasonable Further Progress (RFP), toward attainment of the ozone standard. This provides a way to ensure states make continual progress toward meeting the standard by their attainment date. This SIP element, which was due in June 2007, establishes emission reduction milestones for the first six years after a baseline year (in most cases, the baseline is 2002), and every three years afterward until the attainment year.
  • States that are part of the Ozone Transport Region were required to submit SIPs to meet the 1997 ozone Reasonably Available Control Technology (RACT) requirement for the entire State. The RACT requirement applies to all areas within the Ozone Transport Region, regardless of the areas designation for the 1997 ozone standard.
  • The states in the Ozone Transport Region are: Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Statistical Area, including the northern Virginia suburbs.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

  • To download a copy of this notice, please go to www.epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/ and click on Regulatory Actions. For further information concerning this action, contact Mr. Butch Stackhouse of EPAs Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards at (919) 541-5208 or by email at stackhouse.butch@epa.gov.


States and Areas Receiving Findings of Failure to Submit
State Affected Area(s) SIP Element(s) Not Submitted
California W Mojave Desert Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Sacramento Metro Area Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Ventura County (part) Area Reasonable Further Progress SIP
New Hampshire Boston-Manchester-Portsmouth (SE) Attainment Demonstration
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
New York Jefferson County Area Attainment Demonstration
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Rhode Island Providence (all of RI) Area Attainment Demonstration
RACT SIPs
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Illinois Chicago-Gary-Lake County Area Attainment Demonstration
RACT SIPs
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
St. Louis Area NOx RACT
Indiana Chicago-Gary-Lake County Area Attainment Demonstration
RACT SIPs
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Maine Entire State in Ozone Transport Region (OTR) VOC RACT SIP
Entire State minus areas receiving NOx waiver NOx RACT SIP
Ohio Cleveland-Akron-Lorain Area VOC RACT SIP
Vermont Entire State in Ozone Transport Region NOx and VOC RACT SIPs
Virginia Stafford County Portion of the OTR NOx and VOC RACT SIPs
Wisconsin Milwaukee-Racine Area Attainment Demonstration
Reasonable Further Progress SIP
Sheboygan Area  Attainment Demonstration
Reasonable Further Progress SIP

 

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