Three years after the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) documented monitored attainment of the 1997 8-hour ozone standard, EPA is finally proposing to redesignate the Baton Rouge area to attainment for ozone.
Along with this proposal, EPA is also proposing to approve as a revision to the Louisiana State Implementation Plan (SIP), a 1997 8-hour ozone maintenance plan with a 2022 Motor Vehicle Emissions Budget (MVEB) for the Baton Rouge Nonattainment Area (BRNA). This should be welcomed news for those engaged in transportation planning and conformity determinations for the Baton Rouge area.
EPA is also proposing to approve revisions to the Louisiana SIP that meets the Reasonably Available Control Technologies (RACT) requirements for NOx and VOCs for the 1-hour and 1997 8-hour ozone standard requirements, and to approve a state rule establishing a maintenance plan contingency measure.
In a prior, separate rule making action, EPA finalized its action to terminate the 1-hour ozone backsliding Section 185 penalty fee requirement. There should be a sigh of relief from our local industries to no longer have to worry about the penalty fees.
In their announcement, EPA stated that preliminary air quality data for 2011 continues to show that the Baton Rouge area meets the 1997 8-hour standard as well as the 1-hour standard for ozone, and that LDEQ has demonstrated that the five parish area will be able to maintain compliance with the ozone standard for the next ten years.
The significance of the redesignation of the Baton Rouge area to attainment should not be overlooked. When the 1990 Clean Air Amendments were promulgated, the Baton Rouge area was classified as having a “serious” ozone problem and, overall, Louisiana had around 20 parishes around the state designated as nonattainment for ozone. Tremendous improvements in the state’s air quality have been made over the past two decades and, with the formal redesignation of the Baton Rouge to attainment for the ozone standard, every parish within the State of Louisiana will be in attainment for every National Ambient Air Quality Standard established by the federal government. The State of Louisiana should be very proud.