Friday, June 29, 2007

EPA Proposes Tougher SMOG Rules

EPA recommended tougher standards on ozone, the principle component of smog, on June 21. It is EPA's first new recommendation since 1997 for ground-level ozone and would reduce current smog standards by 11 - 17 percent. EPA measures smog by calculating the concentration of ozone molecules in the atmosphere over an eight-hour period. The current standard is 84 parts per billion. EPA is proposing reducing that to between 70 and 75 parts per billion.

EPA is taking public comment for 90 days and settle on a final number by March 12, 2008. EPA is also requesting comments on alternate standards, including keeping the current one or reducing it further to .060 parts per million. EPA monitors 639 counties nationwide, and if the standard went to 75 parts per billion, 398 counties would be out of compliance, and if it went to 70 parts per billion, 533 counties would be out of compliance.

States with noncompliance areas could lose federal highway funds. EPA is required by the Clean Air Act to review standards on ozone and other pollutants every five years. It did not happen five years ago and the American Lung Association filed a lawsuit taht led to a settlement with EPA to propose revised levels for smog.

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