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A breath of fresh air

December 22, 2015   By Jay Hudson in Energy Matters


On Oct. 1, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced the final National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone at 70 parts per billion (ppb), which is below the 2008 standard of 75 ppb.

The proposed rule considered changing the standard to as low as 60 ppb, and I discussed concerns over an unjustifiably low ozone standard earlier this year. While Santee Cooper urged EPA to not modify the standard at all, the agency did respond to scientifically based comments and kept the standard at the higher end of the range.

What's positive about this development is South Carolina is ready to comply. In the past decade, when some ozone levels were over 80 ppb, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) established local air quality partnerships with local governments to encourage and implement voluntary efforts to reduce ozone precursors such as nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds (mostly from vehicle exhaust). DHEC has also implemented state regulations to control these pollutants from stationary sources.

These efforts, combined with improving new vehicle standards, have lowered South Carolina ozone levels to a point I did not think was possible as little as 10 years ago. The above graphic illustrates that, at least right now, South Carolina is in full compliance with the new ozone standards.

What does this mean? For one, it means South Carolina remains "open for business" for future economic development as they won't be limited by ozone non-attainment areas that hamper future growth. DHEC is to be commended for having our state in great shape for the future.