In the early 2000s, an Early Action Compact (EAC) allowed the counties of Anderson, Greenville, and Spartanburg to develop and implement a series of activities toward achieving emissions reductions under the 1997 standards established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for air quality, ground level ozone. By signing the compact, the three counties viewed their participation in the EAC as a proactive means of achieving compliance with the 1997 8-hour ground level ozone standard ahead of the federally-mandated compliance date, while avoiding unnecessary and burdensome federal restrictions that normally apply to non-attainment areas. The implemented strategies achieved required milestones included in the EAC before December 31, 2007.
In early 2008, EPA designated 13 areas, including the Greenville-Spartanburg-Anderson area, as attaining the 1997 8-hour ground level ozone standard under the EAC. EPA proposed "this action because each of the areas has demonstrated that they attained the standard by Dec. 31, 2007".
In March 2008, the EPA Administrator announced that the agency had strengthened the 8-hour ozone standard from 0.08 parts per million (ppm) to 0.075 ppm for both the primary and secondary standards.
In January 2010, EPA announced a proposal, "Reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard for Ozone", to further strengthen the 8-hour ozone standard below the 0.075 ppm level previously set in 2008. EPA proposed to set the new ozone standard between the 0.060-0.070 ppm range. EPA postponed the final ruling several times until the White House requested EPA the withdrawal of the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. In September 2011, President Obama issued the following statement:
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
September 02, 2011
Statement by the President on the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Over the last two and half years, my administration, under the leadership of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, has taken some of the strongest actions since the enactment of the Clean Air Act four decades ago to protect our environment and the health of our families from air pollution. From reducing mercury and other toxic air pollution from outdated power plants to doubling the fuel efficiency of our cars and trucks, the historic steps we’ve taken will save tens of thousands of lives each year, remove over a billion tons of pollution from our air, and produce hundreds of billions of dollars in benefits for the American people.
At the same time, I have continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty, particularly as our economy continues to recover. With that in mind, and after careful consideration, I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time. Work is already underway to update a 2006 review of the science that will result in the reconsideration of the ozone standard in 2013. Ultimately, I did not support asking state and local governments to begin implementing a new standard that will soon be reconsidered.
I want to be clear: my commitment and the commitment of my administration to protecting public health and the environment is unwavering. I will continue to stand with the hardworking men and women at the EPA as they strive every day to hold polluters accountable and protect our families from harmful pollution. And my administration will continue to vigorously oppose efforts to weaken EPA’s authority under the Clean Air Act or dismantle the progress we have made.
On May 21, 2012, the EPA published the final rules for the Implementation of the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone (click here to read the final implementation rule) and for the Air Quality Designations for the 2008 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (click here to read the final designations rule). With the exception of the Rock Hill, SC, area, the entire State of South Carolina has been designated as an "unclassifiable/attainment" area. Click here to view the Map of Final Designations - EPA Region 4 (Southeast area). Click here to learn more about the final designations throughout the country. These designations became effective July 20, 2012.
As required by the Clean Air Act, EPA will "review and, if necessary, revise air quality standards every five years to ensure that they protect public health with an adequate margin of safety". Accordingly, it is expected that EPA would propose an action and finalize any necessary revisions to 2008 ozone NAAQS in the next few years. Greenville County has joined the Upstate SC regional efforts to continue improving air quality.
Greenville County continues implementing the Spare the Air Public Awareness campaign. If your organization is interested in having an air quality presentation please contact Sandra E. Yúdice.
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