Ohio EPA Disagrees with Air Quality Downgrade

Ohio EPA testified at a hearing in Washington, D.C., to express serious concerns about U.S. EPA proposing to downgrade the air quality status of two Ohio metropolitan areas under the 1997 ozone standard, according to a release from the state on March 4.

U.S. EPA has proposed to reclassify the Columbus and Cincinnati metropolitan areas to "moderate nonattainment," a classification that includes additional mandatory air quality controls such as vehicle emissions testing.

"Ohio has made significant progress toward meeting the 1997 ozone standard but U.S. EPA is ignoring that fact," said Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski. "U.S. EPA's abrupt proposal to downgrade the air quality status of two areas would impose unreasonable air quality requirements and give us one year to comply."

Ohio EPA's concerns with the federal agency's proposed action includes:

• U.S. EPA is basing its proposed action on data from more than six years ago. The Columbus area is meeting the 1997 ozone standard currently and Cincinnati is close to meeting it.

• This action would require additional, federally mandated air pollution controls without extending the timeframe (2010) Ohio has to implement those controls.

• There is a newer ozone standard for which U.S. EPA will be classifying nonattainment areas next year.

• Ohio EPA is concerned with the lack of coordination between the 2008 ozone standard and this proposal. States should be spending their limited resources to comply with the current standard based on current data, not one based on old data.

Ohio EPA's complete hearing testimony can be found at www.epa.state.oh.us/pic/nr/HearingTestimony.pdf.