Non-Attainment Areas Expected to Increase

June 28, 2011

This excerpt was originally posted on the John Deere, Straightforward Blog June 28, 2011. You can view the original post here.

We are less than a month away from the deadline for the expected release of new ground-level ozone national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Why is this important to the construction industry?

Among other things diesel engines used in construction equipment emit oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter (PM). Oxides of nitrogen combine with other elements in the atmosphere to form ground-level ozone, which along with PM comprise two of the six criteria pollutants (see the full list), which the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set NAAQS. In 1971, EPA established the first 1-hour NAAQS ozone standard of 0.080 parts per million (ppm). In layman’s terms, this means that the first ozone standard was measured over a one-hour time period, which could not exceed .080 ppm on average over a three-year period.

Based upon measurements of ozone and PM, a county is considered either “attainment” or “non-attainment” meaning it either meets the standard set by EPA, or it does not. The Clean Air Act also requires EPA to review the criteria pollutants and NAAQS at 5-year intervals and make revisions as appropriate.

The EPA last revised the NAAQS for ground-level ozone in March 2008. This map shows the non-attainment areas based upon 2005 levels. The current 8-hour standard for ground level ozone is .075 ppm. There is discussion to reduce it to .060 ppm. This map shows the potential non-attainment areas if EPA lowers the standard to .060 ppm – double the number of counties considered non-attainment.

What affect will the announcement have on the construction industry?

The Clean Air Act requires states to develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) to attain and maintain air quality standards, and specifically plans to deal with non-attainment areas. These plans are important because if a state fails to achieve the NAAQs standard, it can lose federal infrastructure funds. Some state and local plans designed to ensure compliance with the NAAQS standard will affect off-road diesel equipment currently being used in the field by requiring certain emission reduction technologies within bid specifications for government-funded projects. By doing so, the state or locality reduces emissions from existing machines and encourages the adoption of newer, lower-emission machines. An example of an in-use regulation is the Cook County Green Construction Ordinance in the greater Chicago area.

When will revised NAAQS standards impact contractors?

Although it can take years to determine whether a given county will be considered to be in non-attainment under a more stringent NAAQS standard, SIPs and local in-use regulations may be developed or revised more quickly. Contractors should be on the lookout for these regulatory activities to ensure they are in a position to compete with the right solutions. Your John Deere dealer can help you address in-use regulations by conducting a fleet analysis and discussing the best emission reduction solution, whether it’s a retrofit, repower, rental, or a replacement solution or some combination of each. Your dealer can also explain how to comply with state or local requirements designed to reduce emissions through limiting idle time by using JDLink™, a telematics system, which can help keep tabs on idle times across an entire fleet of equipment.

Categorized: Construction