Technology Transfer Network / NAAQS
June 6, 2000 Letter to
Mr. Christopher Jones
June 6, 2000
Mr. Christopher Jones Director, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Lazarus Government Center 122 South Front Street Columbus, Ohio 43215
Dear Mr. Jones:
Thank you for your letter dated May 8, 2000, in which you proposed two options for designating areas under the 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard (NAAQS). Your options include: 1) designating as unclassifiable areas that measure air quality values above 0.084 ppm; or, as an alternative, 2) designating an entire State unclassifiable pending the outcome of the NAAQS litigation.
In response to your first option, the Clean Air Act (Act) specifically provides that an area must be designated nonattainment if the area does not meet or contributes to ambient air quality in a nearby area that does not the NAAQS. Consequently, if air quality monitoring data indicate that an area is in violation of the 8-hour NAAQS, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is required by the Act to designate it as nonattainment. In response to your second option, the Act specifically provides that an unclassifiable area is an area that cannot by classified on the basis of available information as meeting or not meeting the NAAQS. Based on this, EPA could not designate an area as unclassifiable if it had air quality monitoring data showing that it was violating the NAAQS.
While there is some uncertainty associated with the pending NAAQS litigation, the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia did not vacate the 8-hour NAAQS and specifically affirmed EPA's authority to make air quality designations for the 8-hour NAAQS while at the same time limiting our authority to implement this standard. Since the court did not question the need for the new NAAQS or the science behind it, we believe it is important to go forward with the designations as a way of protecting public health. We have indicated that while EPA is going forward with designations based on the court's decision, we intend to consider the status of the litigation in making determinations regarding the timing and effectiveness of the designations. Note that on May 22, the Supreme Court agreed to review the ozone and particulate matter NAAQS case which could result in a decision by mid-2001.
We are hopeful that the State of Ohio will submit its nonattainment boundary recommendations by June 30, 2000. Our review of the 1997-1999 air quality data that were submitted by Ohio shows that the 8-hour NAAQS is being violated in 30 of the 33 counties that have ozone monitors. Based on this, we feel it is imperative to inform the public of the status of air quality where they live or might choose to live.
We are committed to working with your State on its nonattainment area boundary recommendations. I appreciate the opportunity to be of service and trust that this information will useful to you.
John S. Seitz
Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards