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Columbus: first US city to meet ozone compliance rules

Several federal regulations pertaining to fuel and motor vehicle emission standards decreased emissions to help the area achieve the standard.

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Businesses will face fewer air permitting restrictions, which spurs economic development
Businesses will face fewer air permitting restrictions, which spurs economic development

Columbus, Ohio, is the first non-attainment metropolitan area in the US to meet the most recent federal air quality standard for ozone pollution.

 

As a previous non-attainment area, it was deemed to have air quality worse than the national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS).

 

Recent air monitoring data from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ohio EPA for ground-level ozone shows the Columbus area now meets NAAQS in addition to all other federal air quality standards set to protect public health.

 

Fewer restrictions

 

As a result of the redesignation, businesses will face fewer air permitting restrictions paving the way for infrastructure investment and economic development that will create jobs.

 

“Today is a very good day for everyone who lives and breathes in the greater Columbus area,” said Cathy Stepp, regional administrator. “The Columbus success story is the direct result of the cooperative partnership between the US EPA, the state of Ohio, the city, local government entities and industry to improve air quality which in turn spurs economic development and revitalisation.”

 

The Columbus area was designated in 2018 as a marginal non-attainment area for the 2015 ozone NAAQS based on a multifactor analysis, including air-quality monitoring data.

 

Several federal regulations pertaining to fuel standards and motor vehicle emission standards decreased emissions to help achieve the standard in the Columbus area, which includes Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, and Licking Counties.

“The Columbus success story is the direct result of the cooperative partnership between the US EPA, the state of Ohio, the city, local government entities and industry to improve air quality”

Three years of recent monitoring data show the Columbus area met the 2015 NAAQS for ozone. After a public comment process, EPA formally redesignated the Columbus area to attainment and approved Ohio’s plan to ensure that the area will continue to meet the ozone standard.

 

“US EPA’s recognition that the air quality in the Columbus metropolitan area meets the most recent national ozone standard reflects continuing progress in efforts to improve air quality and the quality of life for Ohio residents,” added Laurie Stevenson, director, Ohio EPA.

 

Nationally, in the period from 2000 to 2017, the concentration of ground level ozone has decreased by 17 per cent.

 

All other air pollutants regulated under NAAQS – carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter and sulphur dioxide – have also significantly decreased thanks to the various air quality management and control strategies developed and implemented at the local, state, regional, and national level.

 

Ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight.

 

Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapours, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs.

 

The Columbus metropolitan area contains multiple census tracts designated as federal opportunity zones. An opportunity zone is an economically distressed community where new investment, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment

 

Whenever possible, EPA said it is working to target and focus its efforts on opportunity zones.

 

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