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ground-level ozone

U.S. EPA Tightening Its Ozone Targets

December 2, 2014 in Regulations by Rich Piellisch  |  No Comments

New Smog Rule Is to Mean Less NOx from Engines of All Types:
Ozone Limit of 65 to 70 Parts Per Billion, Down from 75 PPB Now
Is Expected to Create Significant Opportunities for Alternative Fuels

Citing the requirements of the Clean Air Act to use the best available science, the U.S. EPA is moving to reduce ground-level ozone pollution, which effectively means reducing NOx emissions from powerplants and from engines of all types. Besides lowering the permissible level of ambient ozone, EPA wants to extend the ozone monitoring season for 33 states.

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy

“Based on extensive recent scientific evidence about the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, or smog,” the agency is proposing to lower the permissible level of ambient ozone from the current 75 parts per billion to a range of 65 to 70 ppb – with the possibility of a 60 ppb ceiling by the time the rule is finalized next autumn.

‘Great Opportunities for Alternative Fuels’

“Regardless of what final ozone number is chosen, there will be more focus on reducing emissions from the existing fleet,” said Erik Neandross, CEO at GNA – Fleets & Fuels publisher Gladstein, Neandross & Associates.

“This will create great opportunities for alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, as well as for fleets looking to improve the environmental and economic performance of their operations,” Neandross said.

Clean Air Act ‘The Way It Was Intended’

“The national government has stepped up,” EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters in announcing the new rule just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday. “We are using the Clean Air Act the way it was intended.”

EPA says that its scientists have reviewed more than 1,000 studies published since the last ozone update, and find that the current 75-ppb limit for ozone is inadequate, in that it allows “serious threats to public health” to persist.

Ground-level ozone forms when emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds “cook” in the sun from sources including cars, trucks, and buses, EPA says.

The agency also notes that a combination of recently finalized or proposed air pollution rules – including “Tier 3” clean vehicle and fuels standards – will significantly cut smog-forming emissions from industry and transportation, helping states meet the proposed standards.

‘Rules and Programs Now In Place’

“EPA ambient air quality standards have led to much cleaner air and improved public health in an extremely cost-effective manner,” says Rich Kassel, senior VP at GNA – and a former member of the Clean Air Act Advisory Committee, which advises EPA on policy matters. “From 1990 to 2020, these standards will have prevented more 230,000 premature deaths and 17 million lost work days.”

“EPA’s analysis of federal programs that reduce air pollution from fuels, vehicles and engines of all sizes, power plants and other industries shows that the vast majority of U.S. counties with monitors would meet the more protective standards by 2025 just with the rules and programs now in place or underway,” the agency said.

“Nationally, from 1980 to 2013, average ozone levels have fallen 33%. EPA projects that this progress will continue.”

Economic Benefit Far Exceed Costs

“The economic benefits of these standards will exceed the implementation costs by a factor of more than thirty to one,” Kassel said. “I have no doubt that the next ozone standard will continue this track record.”

EPA notes that under its latest proposal, deadlines to achieve the new ozone levels extend in some areas until 2037.

U.S. EPA Ground-Level Ozone


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