At its monthly meeting in May, the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC) today approved its air quality plan for the region, paving the way for state air agencies to submit the plan to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for approval.
The EPA-required plan, called a State Implementation Plan (SIP), presents air quality data showing the region will meet the federal standard for ozone -- a harmful gas formed when the sun heats polluted air -- by the fall of 2009.
MWAQC officials said the revised plan is further evidence of a continued commitment to improving air quality. The plan will help local governments build upon the programs and policies that have already helped reduce the number of days of air pollution from ground level ozone by 44 percent since 2003.
"Despite tougher standards for ozone, we are still on track to meet the EPA's requirements," said MWAQC Chair and Montgomery County Council Member Nancy Floreen. “The air in the National Capital Region is much cleaner because of the work our local governments have done and our children and people with respiratory ailments will be healthier because of the work we’ve done. The commitment to air quality in this region is aggressive and unrelenting.”
The plan includes a list of measures to reduce pollution from ozone-forming gases. In addition to federal and state measures, local governments and agencies in the region are expanding their purchases of wind energy and low emissions vehicles, and are building upon their energy efficiency programs. In addition, light-emitting diode (LED) traffic signals that are being installed throughout the region will save energy and help lower smog emissions.
Additionally, power plants in the region will be required to limit emissions further under the Clean Air Interstate Rules adopted by Virginia and the District and the Healthy Air Act in Maryland. States throughout the northeast are also reducing emissions by requiring reformulation of consumer products, paints, adhesives and sealants, and less polluting solvent cleaner processes.
The improvements are good news for residents with respiratory ailments, as air pollution from ground level ozone and fine particles can have serious health consequences for more than 1.5 million children and adults in the region.
Board approval of the plan followed a 30-day period for public comment that ended in April. Today's decision comes at the start of ozone season, when air quality forecasts are available daily.
For more information, visit /environment/planning-areas/air-quality/ and cleanairpartners.net.