Back on December 14, 2012, EPA strengthened the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for fine particle pollution. The standard was strengthened from 15.0 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3) to 12.0 ug/m3.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA first asks States to propose which counties should be deemed as not meeting the standard (i.e. "Nonattainment") based upon air quality monitoring data it complied over the last three years.
On December 13, 2013, Ohio EPA proposed five counties- Cuyahoga, Stark, Hamilton, Clermont and Butler be designated nonattainment. On August 19, 2014, U.S. EPA issued its response indicating that it intended to increase the number of counties designated nonattainment to 8 full counties and 5 partial counties.
U.S. EPA Intended Designated Nonattainment Areas
|Canton-Massillon||Stark||Stark, Summit, Wayne (Partial)|
|Cleveland||Cuyahoga||Cuyahoga, Lake and Lorain|
|Cincinnati-Hamilton, OH-KY||Butler, Clermont and Hamilton||
OH: Butler, Clermont, Hamilton, Warren (partial)
KY: Boone (partial), Campbell (partial) and Kenton (partial)
What implications do these designations have on Ohio?
Ohio will have to develop a State Implementation Plan (SIP) which demonstrates how the State will bring these counties into attainment with the new PM 2.5 standard. The SIP will contain new air pollution control regulations. This means increased air pollution regulations in these areas for existing business.
In addition, once the nonattainment classifications are finalized (likely in December 2014), air permitting will become more challenging in these nonattainment areas. New Source Review requirements will require larger sources to offset any pollution increases before a permit can be issued. Offset means either finding other businesses willing to reduce emissions or take emission credits for facilities that recently shut down.
The new requirements could slow down permitting for larger factories in these areas. Also, the net result can be to make nonattainment areas less competitive in attracting new manufacturing jobs.