EPA Reinstates the 1-Hour Ground-Level Ozone (Smog) Standard
WHAT REINSTATEMENT WILL MEAN
- EPA is reinstating 1-hour standard for ground-level
ozone (smog) in nearly 3,000 counties where the standard was previously
- Today's reinstatement provides a safety net for
millions of Americans, to help protect them from the health risks
of ozone pollution while litigation continues over the Agency's
more protective 8-hour ozone standard. EPA proposed reinstating
the standard in October 1999.
- The reinstatement will return all affected counties
to the ozone designations (attainment, nonattainment or unclassifiable)
that were in place when the standard was revoked. In addition,
area classifications (severe, serious, etc.) at the time of revocation
will be restored.
- For most of the affected areas, the reinstatement
will be effective 90 days after the final rule is published in
the Federal Register. However, 45 areas with clean air that had
previously been designated as nonattainment will get 180 days
to submit redesignation requests.
- All affected areas will be required to continue
monitoring for ozone; some will need to take action to prevent
or eliminate ozone violations. Those requirements include implementation
of maintenance plans, transportation and general conformity and
new source review requirements.
- Most of the affected counties have never had an
ozone problem and continue to meet the 1-hour ozone standard.
Reinstatement of the 1-hour ozone standard will not trigger any
new requirements for those areas.
- Based on 1996-98 data, fifty-three areas comprising
114 counties (both nonattainment and attainment) will be required
to take some action to further reduce ozone pollution or to prevent
future ozone increases. Attainment and nonattainment are legal
designations; they do not indicate whether an area's air currently
is clean or dirty. (See attached for a list of the areas.)
- Seven of the 53 areas affected by today's final
reinstatement will need to implement contingency measures in their
existing maintenance plans, because the areas violated the 1-hour
standard based on 1996-1998 data.
- A maintenance plan is required for areas that
once were designated as nonattainment but were reclassified
as attainment after monitors showed clean air for at least
three years, and the areas met other criteria. The plans are
intended to ensure that an area will continue to comply with
- Contingency measures are corrective steps
invoked when a maintenance area records a new violation of
- Forty-five of the 53 areas that will return to nonattainment
status have had "clean air" during the revocation period. To have
the nonattainment designation removed, those areas will need to
submit a request that EPA redesignate them as attainment areas,
and they must meet certain criteria.
- EPA has extended the effective date of today's
action for those 45 areas, to allow them time to make the
redesignation requests. For those areas, reinstatement will
apply 180 days after this final rule is published in the Federal
- Areas that are not redesignated to attainment
will have to meet conformity and new source review requirements
when this final rule takes effect. Areas that are redesignated
will have to meet conformity and prevention of significant
deterioration requirements, in addition to other requirements
of their maintenance plans.
- Conformity refers to requirements under
the Clean Air Act that federally funded transportation
projects not aggravate air quality problems.
- In nonattainment areas, new source review
requirements apply to new and modified industrial facilities
to prevent air quality from declining. New Source Review
requires newly built or modified facilities 1) to install
state-of-the-art emission controls and 2) to purchase
"emission reduction offsets" from existing sources to
compensate for the new pollution.
- Prevention of significant deterioration
refers to requirements for areas with clean air to assure
that new and modified sources do not cause significant
air quality degradation.
- One of the 53 areas formerly designated as nonattainment
(Sussex County, Del.) had a violation of the 1-hour ozone standard,
based on air quality data from 1996-1998 and will remain subject
to conformity and new source review as well as other necessary
Clean Air Act requirements for such nonattainment areas.
- Four additional counties have always been designated
attainment, but data show they violated the 1-hour standard between
1996 and 1998. These counties (Berrien Co., Mich;Hamilton Co.,
Ind.; Hamilton Co., Tenn.; and Rowan Co., N.C.) will not have
to take any immediate action upon reinstatement of the 1-hour
standard. However, if EPA later decides to designate them as nonattainment,
they would be subject to conformity, new source review and other
nonattainment area planning requirements.
BACKGROUND & CHRONOLOGY
- In July 1997, EPA announced a new national ambient
air quality standard for ground-level ozone (the first revision
in nearly 20 years), the primary constituent of smog.
- The new, more stringent standard was developed following
a lengthy scientific review process. The new standard, based on
8-hour ozone readings, would better protect health and the environment
than the 1-hour standard.
- Beginning in June 1998, EPA revoked the 1-hour standard
in nearly 3,000 counties where air quality met the standard. The
revocation was designed to allow areas that had met the 1-hour
standard to redirect their focus toward meeting the 8-hour standard
that would better protect public health.
- EPA revoked the 1-hour standard only in areas that
had clean air for three consecutive years.
- EPA did not revoke the standard in areas that continue
to violate the 1-hour standard.
- On May 14, 1999 (and modified on October 29, 1999),
the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
issued an opinion remanding the new 8-hour standard and limiting
the manner in which EPA can implement it. Although the appellate
court did not question the need for the new standard or the science
behind it, the court's decision left nearly 3,000 U.S. counties
without a fully enforceable federal public health standard for
- In May 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review
the D.C. Circuit Court decision on the 8-hour ozone standard.
- Once the 8-hour standard has become fully enforceable
and subject to no further legal challenge, EPA again will take
action to revoke the 1-hour ozone standard in areas where air
quality meets the standard.
Ozone & Health
- Ground-level ozone is formed when emissions of nitrogen
oxides and volatile organic compounds react with sunlight. Sources
for these pollutants include power plants, factories, motor vehicles,
chemical solvents and consumer products.
- When inhaled even at very low levels ground-level
ozone can: cause acute respiratory problems; aggravate asthma;
reduce lung capacity; inflame lung tissue; and impair the body's
- Children especially those with asthma are at greatest
risk from ozone pollution. During the summer, when concentrations
of ground-level ozone are highest, children playing outside may
suffer from coughing and decreased lung function, and may have
trouble catching their breath.
- People with asthma are much more likely to have
attacks or more severe attacks when ozone levels in the air are
high. Studies show that ozone can aggravate asthma, causing an
increase in asthma attacks and leading to increases in medication
use, medical treatment and hospital emergency room visits.
- Repeated exposures to ozone can damage lung tissue,
which may result in a reduced quality of life as people age.
- Ground-level ozone also makes plants more susceptible
to disease, insect attack and other pollutants. Ground-level ozone
has been shown to reduce agricultural yields for many economically
important crops, such as soybeans, corn, peanuts, wheat and cotton.
- Nitrogen oxides, one of the key constituents of
ozone, also contribute to airborne particulate matter, regional
haze (visibility) problems, global warming, and eutrophication
in sensitive lakes and rivers.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Fifty-Three Areas That Will Have to Take Action as a Result of Reinstatement
of 1-Hour Ozone Standard
- For further information about this proposal call, Tom Helms
(919) 541-5527 or Jeff Clark (919) 541-5557. For technical questions,
call Annie Nikbakht (919) 541-5246 (ozone policy) or Barry Gilbert
(919) 541-5238 (air quality data).
Seven Areas Designated Attainment (With Maintenance Plans) With
Violations Since Revocation Includes 7 areas (24 counties) violating
the 1-hour standard based on 1996-1998 data.
- Charlotte-Gastonia, NC (2 counties)
Huntington-Ashland, WV-KY (4 counties)
Knoxville, TN (1 county)
Nashville, TN (5 counties)
Portland-Vancouver AQMA, OR-WA (4 counties)
Richmond, VA (7 counties)
Sheboygan, WI (1 county)
45 Areas Designated Nonattainment With No Violations Since Revocation
Includes 45 areas (96 counties) that did not violate the 1-hour
standard based on 1996-98 data. (These areas may apply for redesignation
- SERIOUS CLASSIFICATION
- Boston-Lawrence-Worcester (E. MA), MA-NH (12 counties)
Portsmouth-Dover-Rochester, NH (1 county)
Providence (All RI), RI (5 counties)
- MODERATE CLASSIFICATION
- Atlantic City, NJ (2 counties)
Knox & Lincoln Cos., ME (2 counties)
Lewiston-Auburn, ME (2 counties)
Muskegon, MI (1 county)
Portland, ME (3 counties)
Poughkeepsie, NY (3 counties)
- MARGINAL CLASSIFICATION
- Albany-Schenectady-Troy, NY (6 counties)
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton, PA-NJ (4 counties)
Altoona, PA (1 county)
Buffalo-Niagara Falls, NY (2 counties)
Door Co., WI
Erie, PA (1 county)
Essex Co., NY
Harrisburg-Lebanon-Carlisle, PA (4 counties)
Jefferson Co., NY
Johnstown, PA (2 counties)
Manchester, NH (1 county)
Reno, NV (1 county)
Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, PA (5 counties)
Smyth Co., VA (White Top Mtn)
York, PA (2 counties)
Youngstown-Warren-Sharon, OH-PA (3 counties)
SECTION 185A AREAS (Section 185A areas, previously called transitional
areas, had three complete years of clean data from 1987-89)
- Chico, CA (1 county)
Denver-Boulder, CO (6 counties)
Flint, MI (1 county)
Yuba City, CA (2 counties)
INCOMPLETE DATA CLASSIFICATION (Incomplete data areas had no data
or less than 3 complete years of data at time of classification)
- Allegan Co., MI
Cheshire Co., NH
Crawford Co., PA
Franklin Co., PA
Greene Co, PA
Juniata Co., PA
Lawrence Co., PA
Northumberland Co., PA
Pike Co., PA
Saginaw-Bay City-Midland, MI (3 counties)
Salem, OR (2 counties)
Schuylkill Co., PA
Snyder Co., PA
Susquehanna Co., PA
Warren Co., PA
Wayne Co., PA
Areas Designated Nonattainment With Violations Since Revocation
Includes only 1 county violating the 1-hour standard based on 1996-98
- MARGINAL CLASSIFICATION
- Sussex Co., DE