DEQ director plans to address Congress on ozone standards

Posted at 10:15 AM, Jun 12, 2013

By Alexandria Autrey

SALT LAKE CITY – The executive director of Utah Department of Environmental Quality, Amanda Smith plans to testify before Congress Wednesday on the EPA’s plan to enforce stricter standards for the ozone under the Clean Air Act.

“The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments included specific strategies and deadlines to solve an urban ozone problem that was primarily caused by mobile sources,” said Smith.

In addition, recent studies indicate that ozone from as far away as Asia, and wildfires closer to home contribute significantly to the background ozone levels.

“If EPA moves forward with a more stringent standard before mechanisms to address western ozone issues are developed, it will guarantee failure for Utah and many other western states, leading to severe consequences for those states,” Smith said.

The EPA is reviewing lowering the current limits from 75 parts per billion to 70 ppb and Utah counties that currently meet the standards will struggle if the standard is lowered, bringing many counties into a non-attainment status.

“We want to ensure that our efforts are focused on emission reduction strategies that are effective and appropriate in reducing ozone levels without requiring difficult, expensive measures that make no sense and transportation-focused measures in small rural communities will not be effective, nor will overly stringent controls applied to remote industrial sources. Setting an ozone standard that can’t be met won’t improve public health in Utah,” said Smith.

The control strategies DEQ is currently developing in response to the wintertime pollution problem in much of northern Utah will also have a significant impact on summertime ozone levels.