MWAQC Releases Revised Air Quality Plan for Public Comment

Dec 17, 2003

WASHINGTON – The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) has released its revised regional air quality plan for public comment. Beginning December 20, 2003 through January 22, 2004, the public will be able to view and to comment on the air quality plan to the state air agencies and online.

D.C. Council Member Phil Mendelson, chair of MWAQC, said with the release of the plan “the region continues to make progress toward meeting Clean Air Act requirements.” He also said that MWAQC is releasing a “Gold Book” of new initiatives that will go beyond the Clean Air Act to contribute further to clean air for the region.

The Plan, called a State Implementation Plan (SIP), uses new models and improved data to provide a more accurate estimate of pollutants from motor vehicles and travel demand in the region. The revised plan builds on the SIP that MWAQC approved and the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia submitted to the EPA last August. The SIP included a list of control measures to reduce ozone-causing local pollution and that which is transported to other areas, as well as a number of state regulated control measures designed to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). In addition, the revised plan addresses Clean Air Act requirements for areas “severely” out of compliance with the one-hour national ozone standard such as Washington, DC-MD-VA, and incorporates contingency measures, thereby insuring that additional measures for reduction pollution are available as may be necessary to meet Clean Air Act requirements.

 Highlights of the revised plan: 

  •  Uses new models and improved data to estimate more accurately pollutants from mobile sources in the region;
  • Demonstrates required progress toward meeting improvements in air quality by 2002 and 2005;
  • Adopts new control measures, including a package of local governments voluntary commitments to reduce pollutants from their operations such as:
    • Gas can replacement program (for local governments)
    • Alternative fueled vehicle purchases for local government fleets
    • Low-VOC paint use for traffic marking and painting
    • Wind energy purchases
    • Diesel school bus retrofitting to reduce pollutants; and
    • Contingency measures needed if the region fails to meet its goal by  2005

Commenting on the new plan, Tom Snyder, air director for Maryland, said “Maryland continues to believe that unless measures are taken to control pollution transport from the Ohio River Valley, local pollution controls will be of little value.  Nevertheless, it is still important that we do everything possible to control local air pollution emissions, and the proposals being considered as part of this revised State Implementation Plan show this area’s continued commitment to dealing with local air pollution problems.” 

Marsha Kaiser, of the Maryland Department of Transportation and member of MWAQC, commented, “The region has done a tremendous job towards cleaning the air through the measures in the SIP. Despite increases in population, jobs and vehicle miles traveled, we have decreased emissions by more than 38% since 1990.”

The District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia will submit the revised plan in March 2004 for EPA approval. "Virginia is looking forward to receiving public comment on this cooperative effort to improve air quality in the metropolitan Washington region," said Robert G. Burnley, director of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality.

During December and January, MWAQC is also seeking comment on the “Gold Book” of innovative measures.  Comments on the Gold Book should be submitted to MWAQC at the COG website.  The public may view all the documents on the SIP Plan page.

 
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