It’s Official: Air Across New Jersey Meets National Standards for Sulfur Dioxide
Final Designation of Warren County as Meeting the Standard Highlights Success of Decades of Air Pollution Regulation
NEW YORK – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that it has approved the State of New Jersey’s request to redesignate Warren County, New Jersey as being “in attainment” with national health-based outdoor air quality standard for sulfur dioxide (SO2). For the first time since 1987, all of NJ is now designated as meeting the SO2 standard.
“This was a long time coming and is a testament to the collaborative efforts of state and federal agencies, as well as the commitment of industry stakeholders, in achieving cleaner air for the residents of Warren County, New Jersey,” said EPA Regional Administrator Lisa F. Garcia. “Air quality continues to improve across New Jersey, and it is great that we can deliver cleaner air to future generations of New Jerseyans.”
“This action is indeed a reflection of the longstanding commitment by New Jersey to hold out-of-state sources of air pollution, including coal fired power plants, accountable for impacts to downwind states,” said New Jersey Commissioner of Environmental Protection Shawn M. LaTourette. “The Murphy Administration thanks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for working collaboratively with us to improve air quality for all of New Jersey’s residents.”
In December 1987, EPA had designated portions of Warren County, New Jersey as nonattainment with SO2 air quality standards. The Warren County Nonattainment Area included the entire Townships of Harmony, Oxford, White, and Belvidere, and portions of Liberty and Mansfield Townships.
The initial nonattainment designation was primarily attributed to air pollution from large, upwind sources in Pennsylvania, including the Martins Creek and Portland Generating plants. Since that time, coal-fired units at these facilities have been permanently shut down, and oil-fired units no longer use high-sulfur fuels, which has dramatically cut SO2 emissions New Jersey has also implemented stringent measures, requiring the use of ultra-low sulfur diesel, further contributing to the area's improved air quality.
The Clean Air Act identifies two types of national ambient air quality standards for several key pollutants, among them SO2. Primary standards provide public health protection, including protecting the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards provide public welfare protection, including protection against decreased visibility and damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. Periodically, the standards are reviewed and sometimes revised, establishing new standards. NJ is still working to meet increasingly more stringent standards for the ozone, but the air quality trend in NJ for all measured pollutants is downward.
For more information about how EPA sets air quality standards and designates areas of the country as attaining or not attaining those standards, visit EPA’s web page.
For more information about what NJ is doing to control air pollution visit NJDEP’s web page