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EPA Finalizes Rule to Help States Reduce Ozone Pollution to Meet Stronger Federal Standards


(Washington, D.C.-Nov. 9, 2005) As part of the nationwide effort to improve air quality, EPA issued rules and guidance to state, local and tribal governments on how to develop plans to reduce ozone pollution in areas that do not meet EPA’s health-based standards.

“This rule signifies EPA’s commitment to working with communities to develop cost effective plans,” EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Bill Wehrum said. “As our ozone rule and other clean air rules take effect, Americans will be able to work, exercise and play in cleaner, healthier air.”

The Phase 2 Ozone Implementation Rule outlines emissions control and planning requirements for states to address as they develop their plans showing how they will reduce ozone pollution to meet the 8-hour ozone standard.

The reduction of ozone pollution is an important element of EPA’s national clean air strategy. The strategy includes EPA’s recent Clean Diesel Program to reduce pollution from highway, nonroad and stationary diesel engines, the Clean Air Interstate Rule to reduce pollution from power plants in the eastern United States, and the Clean Air Visibility Rule that cuts emissions to protect visibility in national parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.

A recent EPA analysis of the benefits of meeting the 8-hour ozone standards found that moving from 2000-2002 monitored ozone levels to full attainment of the 8-hour standard would yield substantial health benefits. This analysis indicates that attaining the 8-hour ozone standard would each year avoid hundreds of premature deaths, thousands of hospital admissions, hundreds of asthma emergency room visits, more than one million restricted activity days, and more than 900,000 school absences.

Ground-level ozone, a primary ingredient in smog, is formed when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react chemically in the presence of sunlight. Cars, trucks, power plants and industrial facilities are primary sources of these emissions. Ozone is unhealthy to breathe, especially for people with respiratory diseases and for children and adults who are active outdoors.

The Phase 2 Rule requires states to demonstrate through modeling that nonattainment areas will attain the 8-hour standard as expeditiously as practicable. These demonstrations must include data on reasonably available control measures and reasonably available control technologies. The rule also outlines new source review requirements for areas not meeting the 8-hour standard.

The Phase 2 rule also includes a requirement that certain areas now using cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline (RFG) must continue to use RFG until they meet the 8-hour standard and are designated as attainment. In addition, areas that were previously reclassified as “severe” for the 1-hour standard, and did not attain the 1-hour standard before it was revoked, must continue to use reformulated gas at least until they attain the 8-hour standard.

EPA finalized the Phase 1 ozone implementation rule on April 15, 2004. The Phase 1 rule provided a process for classifying areas based on the severity of their ozone problems and established deadlines for state and local governments to reduce ozone levels. It also established a process for transitioning from implementing the 1-hour standard for ozone to implementing the more protective 8-hour ozone standard.

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