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EPA Upholds Fine Particle Pollution Designations

Release Date: 12/06/2005
Contact Information:

Contact: John Millett, 202-564-4355 /

(12/6/05) EPA delivered letters to seven state and local government petitioners denying their requests that the agency reconsider its decision to designate one or more full or partial county within their jurisdiction in nonattainment for EPA's health-based national air quality standards for fine particle pollution. EPA sent an eighth letter to a government/business coalition denying their request to stay the effective date (April 5, 2005) of the designations.

The petitions being denied include:

1. State of Connecticut -- pertaining to Fairfield and New Haven counties from the New York nonattainment area
2. Commonwealth of Virginia -- pertaining to all designated Virginia counties from the Washington, D.C. nonattainment area
3. State of Maryland -- pertaining to Washington county from the Martinsburg, WV - Hagerstown, MD area
4. Guilford County, NC -- pertaining to Guilford County from the Greensboro nonattainment area
5. State of North Carolina -- pertaining to Guilford County from the Greensboro nonattainment area
6. State of Alabama -- pertaining to the size of the partial county designation for Walker County within the Birmingham nonattainment area
7. State of Georgia -- pertaining to the size of the partial county designation for Putnam County within the Atlanta nonattainment area

In addition, EPA is rejecting a petition from the Southwestern Pennsylvania Growth Alliance requesting a stay in the effective date of the designations pending issuance of a policy on implementing the new source review program.

Areas designated as nonattainment can still receive federal highway funds and can still grow. To attain the air quality standards, nonattainment areas must reduce emissions that produce fine particles and the pollutants that form them.

In December 2004, EPA designated attainment and nonattainment areas for fine particle pollution as an important step toward making the nation's air healthier to breathe. The agency designated counties as "nonattainment" when monitors in that county detected air quality that violates the fine particle, or PM2.5 standards. EPA also included in a nonattainment area, nearby counties contributing to fine particle pollution problems based on a review of nine key factors (including air quality, emissions, population, commuting, and weather conditions).

The Bush Administration has developed a comprehensive clean air strategy to help states and localities meet the fine particle standards. This strategy includes Clear Skies legislation, the Clean Air Interstate Rule and recent rules to reduce pollution from non-road diesel engines. Together these rules will help all areas of the country achieve cleaner air.

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