NOACA Board Approves Recommendations for Improving Regional Air Quality
At its August meeting, the NOACA Board unanimously approved recommendations for the 8-Hour Ozone State Implementation Plan (SIP). The SIP contains programs and strategies for bringing areas of the state, like Northeast Ohio, that do not meet ozone standards into compliance with the established clean air standards by the year 2010. The counties of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit collectively do not meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) standards for ozone, making the eight-county region a “non-attainment area.” Ground-level ozone, which results from a combination of heat, sunlight and emissions from vehicle exhaust and manufacturing, can impair breathing and cause respiratory problems.
The Board approved six general recommendations that include programs and projects NOACA would pursue in its Overall Work Program. These programs and projects would focus on reducing the mobile source pollution from cars, trucks and buses and include:
The NOACA Board also will encourage the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) to include statewide pollution controls in the SIP, such as:
- Anti-idling vehicle policies for city, township and county fleets
- Voluntary trip reduction programs and encouragement of carpooling (Rideshare), bicycling, walking and transit use
- Stricter enforcement of speed limits
- Traffic signal synchronization
- Electrification of truck stops and rest areas
- Diesel engine retrofits and engine replacements for on- and off-road vehicles
- Support for transit facilities such as transit centers, park & ride lots and bus replacements
The Board-approved resolution included some long-term strategies for the SIP as well, such as a region-wide energy conservation strategy. The 27 total recommendations will be forwarded to the Ohio EPA for consideration in the SIP.
- More stringent controls on industrial degreasing operations
- More stringent limits on the formulation of industrial surface coatings, paints and varnishes
- More stringent limits on the formulation of consumer cleaners and other products
- Statewide use of Stage II gas vapor recovery nozzles at the gas pumps
“I am proud that the NOACA Board took the responsibility to put together these recommendations for the SIP, an effort that will ultimately benefit Northeast Ohio,” said NOACA Board President and Medina County Commissioner Stephen D. Hambley. “State and local governments need to do a better job in balancing programs that reduce air pollution with the economic impact to our region.”
In other action, the Board agreed to support a request for an extension of the current deadline the region is under for meeting the federal ozone standard. The region must attain clean air by 2010. NOACA’s Air Quality Public Advisory Task Force and area air quality experts believe that this is not enough time for recently implemented federal air pollution reduction programs to benefit the region. By extending the deadline from 2010 to 2013, pollution reduction programs would have time to work, and Northeast Ohio could possibly achieve attainment without having to introduce more stringent programs and controls on motor vehicles and businesses, both locally and statewide.