Ohio EPA testified at a public hearing for U.S. EPA's proposed rule that addresses a partial vacatur of the implementation rule for the 1997 8-hour ozone standard of 0.08 ppm. Ohio EPA blasted the proposal, which would result in both the Columbus and Cincinnati metropolitan areas being designated as moderate nonattainment areas with the 1997 standard, similar to the current designation of the Cleveland-Akron metropolitan area. Ohio EPA objects to the fact that the proposed re-designations are based on 2001-2003 air quality data, rather than more current ambient monitoring data that 1) shows significant progress toward achieving attainment in Cincinnati, and 2) shows attainment in Columbus. In addition, Ohio EPA believes that the 1 year deadline for submitting the State Implementation Plan (SIP), which is Ohio's plan for attaining the standard, is unreasonable and impractical given the applicable attainment date of June 15, 2010. Specifically, Ohio EPA states that if the proposal were to theoretically become effective on June 15, 2009, the SIP would be required on the actual attainment date. Furthermore, Ohio EPA objects to devoting time and resources to developing a SIP for the 1997 standard when they are required to develop and submit a SIP for the U.S. EPA's 2008 8-hour ozone standard of 0.075 ppm, which became effective on May 27, 2008. If the proposal is finalized, the Columbus and Cincinnati metropolitan areas face tougher air quality regulations, including, but not limited to, a vehicle inspection and maintenance program (E-Check) and the applicability of VOC and NOX RACT rules under OAC 3745-21 and OAC 3745-110 to existing sources. Additionally, if an area fails to attain the 1997 standard by June 15, 2010 deadline, it will face being bumped up to "serious" nonattainment status, which carries with it an additional set of more stringent requirements, including lowering the major source threshold for VOC and NOX from 100 to 50 tons per year.

To view Ohio EPA's press release associated with their testimony on this matter click here. If you have any questions about this article please call Kirk Lowery at 614-433-0733.