The Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) today approved its revised air quality plan, paving the way for state air agencies to submit the plan to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval.
“This is a very significant document with important initiatives that commit this region to improving air quality,” said MWAQC Chair Thomas E. Dernoga. “Today’s vote is a demonstration of the cooperative spirit that has helped us develop practical and effective methods for controlling local air pollution emissions.”
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 and the states of Maryland and Virginia submitted to the EPA in August, 2003, which included a list of control measures to reduce ozone-causing local pollution that is transported to other areas, as well as a number of state regulated control measures designed to reduce volatile organic compounds (VOCs). The revised plan also addresses Clean Air Act requirements for areas “severely” out of compliance with the one-hour national ozone standard and incorporates contingency measures, thereby ensuring that additional procedures for reducing pollution are available as may be necessary to meet Clean Air Act requirements.
Board approval of the plan followed a 30-day period for public comment that ended January 21, 2004.
The revised plan:
- Uses new models and improved data to more accurately estimate 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 goals by 2005
Today’s vote is an important step toward cleaner air, and builds upon the tremendous work that has already helped reduce local emissions by more than 38% since 1990,” said MWAQC Vice Chair Phil Mendelson, who also chairs the COG Board of Directors.
State air agencies have until March 1 to submit the plan to EPA region 3.