Charlotte Metro Area Achieves 1997 Ozone Standard

Raleigh

RALEIGH – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has officially recognized the Charlotte metropolitan area as complying with the 1997 federal air quality standard for ozone.

The EPA published a notice in the Federal Register today announcing its final action to redesignate Charlotte as a maintenance area for the 8-hour ozone standard, meaning that it now complies with the standard but must continue programs aimed at ensuring future compliance. Those efforts are also needed because the area remains in violation of the more stringent 8-hour ozone standard that the EPA adopted in 2008.

“The redesignation of the Charlotte area represents a successful collaboration of all levels of government, business and industry partners, and the citizens of the region,” said Governor Pat McCrory, who worked on the issue extensively as mayor of Charlotte from 1995-2009. “It is a big step for economic development in the region and, more importantly, it means that all who live in and near Charlotte are breathing cleaner air.”

Compliance with the tougher 2008 ozone standard could be achieved within the next few years based on monitoring data and declining emissions from motor vehicles and large industrial sources. The Charlotte area had no exceedances of the 8-hour ozone standard and the state as a whole had only one in 2013, the lowest levels since air monitoring began in the early 1970s.

Emissions from industry and motor vehicles have declined substantially during the past decade due to a series of state and federal measures. Most importantly, the Clean Smokestacks Act that the General Assembly adopted in 2002 required the state’s coal-fired power plants to reduce their emissions by about three-fourths. Other EPA requirements have led to lower emissions from other industrial sources and cars and trucks.

The state cannot relax its efforts because weather conditions were highly favorable for good air quality in 2013 due to a relatively cool, wet summer, said Sheila Holman, director of the N.C. Division of Air Quality. In addition, the EPA periodically reviews its air quality standards and is considering adopting an even more stringent ozone standard.

More information on the ozone redesignation can be found at this page on the EPA website:

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/2ac652c59703a4738525735900400c2c/4fc939e2ba443b9e85257c3500637fc4!OpenDocument .

Information on other North Carolina air quality issues can be found at the Division of Air Quality’s website, www.ncair.org .

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