New Designations in Virginia for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS



Ground-level ozone is a gas that is formed by the reaction of volatile organic compounds and oxides of nitrogen in the atmosphere in the presence of sunlight. On October 1, 2015, the U.S EPA adopted a new more stringent 8-hour ozone standard that is set at 0.070 parts per million (or 70 part per billion). The final rule for the 2015 8-hour Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard was published October 26, 2015. Based on preliminary monitoring data, Virginia recommended that the nonattainment area in Virginia for the 2015 Ozone standard be the same as the 2008 Ozone standard, and that the area be designated marginal nonattainment.

The cities and counties affected are as follows: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, City of Alexandria, City of Fairfax, City of Falls Church, City of Manassas, and City of Manassas Park.

VA 2015 Ozone Counties

EPA considered these recommendations, and published a final rule on November 16, 2017 establishing initial area designations (FR 2017-24640). The initial area designations were either "Attainment" or "Unclassifiable," where "Unclassifiable" means that the EPA doesn't have enough information to classify the area as either meeting or not meeting the standard. In addition to the cities and counties Virginia suggested, the following cities and counties were designated "Unclassifiable" by the EPA: Clarke County, Culpeper County, Fauquier County, Frederick County, Rappahannock County, Spotsylvania County, Stafford County, Warren County, City of Fredericksburg, and City of Winchester. EPA selected these counties because they make up the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria Combined Statistical Area and the Winchester Combined Statistical Area. Areas that are designated nonattainment with the 2015 standards may have to take added steps to limit emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds.

EPA has not yet finalized the remaining ozone designations, which represent 15% of the country, due to the controversial nature of this standard. A lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California on December 4, 2017 that would give EPA chief Scott Pruitt six months to sign off on the remaining ozone designations.  In addition, H.R. 806 is a house-passed bill (sponsored by Representative Pete Olson [R-Texas]) would push back attainment designations until 2025. The Senate's companion version S. 263 (sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore Capito [R-West Virginia]) is currently awaiting action by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Please contact Trinity's Roanoke, Virginia office at (540) 342-5945 for further information about potential impacts on existing Virginia facilities in potential non-attainment areas.