Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Another Level of Attainment?

The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (PSCAA) is in the process of developing an action plan implementing new federal standards for clean air, incorporating such factors as ozone and particulate matter (2.5 microns or smaller).

The federal Clean Air Act requires “transportation conformity”--assuring that local and regional transportation plans, improvements and projects conform to the federal regulations. Current data locally indicates that the implementation plan's new emphasis will no longer be on stationary sources (plants), but rather on transportation conformity (trucks, locomotives, ships) for diesel engines.

Currently, the Tacoma area exceeds the new federal limit on particulate matter in an area centered on S. 78th & 'L' St. This level of pollution has been determined by its characteristics and timing to be the result of residential wood smoke; a study is underway to determine whether or not other sources may contribute to this problem.

This seemingly obscure decision to designate the boundaries of a non-attainment area, separated by a few years from potential effects, carries real consequences. A non-attainment designation can adversely affect economic development, transportation infrastructure development and growth in military installations.

The timeline for this process is as follows:

  1. October 26th
    PSCAA completes initial analyses for designation and informal consultation with Tacoma/Pierce County stakeholders
  2. November-December
    WA DOE holds public comment sessions, then sends draft recommendations to Governor
  3. December 1st
    Legislative Workgroup to recommend wood smoke reduction plan
  4. December 18th
    Governor submits designation areas to EPA based upon monitoring data from 2004 - 2006
  5. December 18th, 2008
    EPA designates final areas--could consider data from 2005 – 2007
States have three years after designation to develop a plan and two or more years longer to meet the standards.