This excerpt was originally posted on the John Deere, Straightforward Blog September 13, 2011. You can view the original post here.

John Deere Ozone NAAQS

After a long period of uncertainty and delay, President Obama announced last week he has requested that EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson withdraw the drafted Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) at this time.

The President said he has continued to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty as our economy continues to recover. This latest announcement is welcomed by many in the U.S. business community as they work to recover from the downturn and add much-needed jobs.

The next scheduled statutory review of the ozone standard is in 2013, and the scientific panel convened by the EPA to review the latest scientific evidence – the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) – has already begun its work.

What is the current standard and why is it important?
Ground-level Ozone is one of six “criteria” pollutants found in the atmosphere for which the Clean Air Act requires EPA to set NAAQS. In March of 2008, the EPA strengthened the NAAQS for ground-level ozone to 75 parts per billion (ppb).

Based on measurements taken by air quality monitors, a county or region is designated being in either “attainment” or “non-attainment”—meaning the air meets the NAAQS standard set by EPA or it does not. Currently, 333 counties in the U.S. are considered non-attainment based on this level.

Ozone and particulate matter are of concern to the construction industry because diesel engines used in construction equipment in many non-attainment areas emit a constituent of ozone.

The Most Recent Proposal

The EPA issued a proposal in 2010 to further strengthen the NAAQS for ozone; this proposal would have changed the current ozone standard from 75 ppb to a range from 60 ppb to 70 ppb.

The more stringent levels under consideration by EPA could have potentially brought over 1,000 counties into non-attainment status, many for the first time. In fact, according to modeling and projections based on available 2008-2010 monitoring data and extrapolating for counties without monitors, the number of counties that would be considered non-attainment could rise to:
• 1,053 counties under a 70 ppb standard
• 2,217 counties under a 65 ppb standard
• 2,795 counties under a 60 ppb standard

What will happen when the standard does change?

Within two years after the NAAQS is promulgated, the EPA must designate areas as attainment or non-attainment based on the most recent set of air monitoring data.

Within three years of a change in NAAQS, the Clean Air Act requires all states to submit a State Implementation Plan (SIP) to show they have the basic air quality management program components in place to implement the new NAAQS.

SIPs for ozone non-attainment areas specifically, are generally due within 36 months of the non-attainment designation. SIPs must contain provisions that prevent deterioration of air quality in areas where ambient standards are already being met. If a state fails to honor its legal obligation to maintain and improve air quality, it can lose federal infrastructure funds.

If new levels are approved, the actions taken by states and municipalities vary but in some cases are immediate. Of key interest to contractors, some state and local plans to address non-attainment may affect off-road diesel equipment through technological requirements or bid specifications on government funded projects.

In order to compete, a contractor may be required to retrofit, repower or replace its equipment to meet a state’s implementation plan.

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