Tuesday, March 20, 2007

EPA Interprets "South Coast" In Redesignations In MI, OH, WV

Mar 20: U.S. EPA announced it is proposing to move forward with final actions on requests to redesignate 18 areas in Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia as meeting the national outdoor air quality standard for ground-level ozone. EPA said ozone air quality in these areas has improved enough to meet the standard, and the states have requested redesignation. In April 2004, EPA designated these areas as nonattainment because their air quality did not meet national outdoor air quality standards for ground-level ozone. The designations became effective in June 2004.

EPA had proposed to redesignate these areas, but final action on the redesignations has been held up pending Agency review of a December decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. That decision rescinded EPA's rule that classified ozone nonattainment areas for the 8-hour standard [See
WIMS 1/2/07, South Coast Air Quality v. U.S. EPA]. EPA said the supplemental proposed rule sets forth its views on the potential effect of the Court’s ruling on a number of proposed redesignation actions.

Specifically, EPA indicates in the proposed rule, "EPA proposes to find that the Court’s ruling does not alter any requirements relevant to these proposed redesignations that would prevent EPA from finalizing these redesignations. The EPA believes that the Court’s decision, as it currently stands or as it may be modified based upon any petition for rehearing that may be filed, imposes no impediment to moving forward with redesignation of these areas to attainment, because in either circumstance, redesignation is appropriate under the relevant redesignation provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and EPA’s longstanding policies regarding redesignation requests."

In Michigan, the areas are Flint, Benton Harbor, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Lansing-East Lansing, Muskegon, Benzie County, Huron County, Mason County and Cass County. The Ohio areas are Lima, Canton-Massillon, and three areas that cross Ohio-West Virginia state boundaries. The last three areas are Marietta, Ohio, and Parkersburg, WV; Steubenville, Ohio, and Weirton, WV; and an area in Ohio across the Ohio River from Wheeling, WV.

In its supplemental proposed rule, EPA is seeking comment on its belief that final action on the redesignation proposals is appropriate under the Clean Air Act and long-standing policies on state redesignation requests. The Agency believes the court's ruling does not alter these requirements or prevent redesignation. EPA's supplemental proposal will be published soon in the Federal Register. EPA will accept comments on the proposal for 15 days from the date of publication.

Access a release (click here). Access the supplemental proposal (click here). Access a fact sheet (click here). [*Air]