California Valley meeting abolished federal ozone standard a mixed bag

In a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) final rule for ozone (O3) established on Feb. 8, 1979 (44 FR 8202) the standard of 120 parts per billion was set. This standard had been in effect, apparently, until the year 2005, according to Jacob Rayburn who in: “Valley air district to ask EPA to lift $29 million penalty” in the Nov. 9, 2013 The Fresno Bee wrote: “The one-hour standard was abolished in 2005 and replaced by the eight-hour standard, but federal law still required the [San Joaquin] Valley to achieve the old standard by 2010.”

Meeting the threshold by that time didn’t happen.

Added Rayburn: “This missed deadline triggered a $29 million annual penalty, which is paid mostly by Valley residents in vehicle registrations.”

Well, from the looks of things the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is going to request the EPA waive the penalty, supposedly, all on account of the one-hour ozone standard not being exceeded a total of three times in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

To say my views on this are mixed is an understatement.

Meeting the “old” standard (abolished in 2005, according to the Rayburn article in question) established in 1979, is what it is. More importantly, (to me), however, is the more stringent federal eight-hour ozone health standard of 75 parts per billion (established in 2008) being met, which is more protective of human health than the 80 parts per billion threshold that was set in 1997.

In fact, in the San Joaquin Valley, the national eight-hour standard for ozone was exceeded 91 times this year, although at this time the data for 2013 is preliminary. To provide a reference, the California eight-hour ozone standard of 70 parts per billion, preliminarily, was exceeded 112 times.

So, it’s a mixed bag and an interesting juxtaposition all wrapped up into one. Preliminarily, the federal eight-hour health standard for ozone in the Valley is exceeded 91 times and, at the same time, the annual 29 million dollar fine could simply disappear. That’s counterintuitive to say the least. Ya think?!

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