On September 15, 2009, U.S. EPA approved Ohio EPA’s redesignation requests for attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard of 0.08 parts per million (ppm) for both the Cleveland-Akron-Lorain (Cleveland) and Columbus areas.  This means that businesses will not be faced with addressing stringent ozone nonattainment permitting requirements such as emission offsets and Lowest Achievable Emission Rate (LAER) in the following 14 counties:

  • Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties in the Cleveland area, and
  • Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Knox, Licking, and Madison counties in the Columbus area. 

Additionally, for the Cleveland area, the risk of being “bumped up” to a serious nonattainment designation that would have required additional, more stringent controls be put in place has been avoided.

While this is good news for Ohio, this good news is likely to be short-lived.  Why?  First, in 2008, U.S. EPA established a new, lower 8-hour ozone standard of 0.075 ppm.  Both the Cleveland and Columbus areas (along with numerous other counties in Ohio) are scheduled to be designated as nonattainment areas for the new standard in March 2010.  Please refer to http://www.epa.ohio.gov/dapc/SIP/2008.aspx for information related to Ohio EPA’s recommended attainment designations for the 0.075 ppm standard.

However, perhaps more importantly is U.S. EPA’s announcement earlier this month that it will reconsider the establishment of the 2008 standard and propose a revised standard by December 2009.  The likely result is that nonattainment designations for the 0.075 ppm standard will be stayed and the actual standard will be lowered.  The reconsideration stems from when the Bush era U.S. EPA established the 2008 standard, it seemingly neglected the recommendations of its own Clean Air Science Advisory Committee to set the 2008 standard between 0.060 and 0.070 ppm.  If the 2008 standard is lowered from 0.075 ppm, it is expected that several more Ohio counties will face ozone nonattainment status, and it will be far more difficult to attain the standard by the applicable deadline, which could be as early as 2014.  A link to U.S. EPA’s recent announcement can be found at http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/85F90B7711ACB0C88525763300617D0D.

If you have any questions concerning ozone attainment issues, please contact Kirk Lowery at 614-433-0733.