New scheme will assist voluntary ozone reductions

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced new guidelines which are designed to encourage state, local and tribal governments to make voluntary early reductions of air emissions that form ground-level ozone.

Participation in the programme, called Ozone Flex, is only open to regions currently meeting the 1-hour, 0.12 parts per million (ppm) standard, although they are permitted to violate the more recent 8-hour, 0.08ppm standard. Areas participating in the scheme will be able to implement their own approach to maintaining clean air, and are expected to receive a positive public reaction to voluntarily reducing pollution ahead of EPA legislation. For a period of time – generally expected to be no longer than five years – participating areas are permitted a ‘non-attainment designation’ for the 1-hour ozone standard whilst local controls are put in place.

As part of the agreement, authorities will commit to preparing emission inventories, and conducting air quality modelling and monitoring if necessary, to support their selection of emission controls.

However, new research has found that local background ozone control may be beyond the power of local authorities.

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