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Smog-ozone policy shift.

Smog-ozone policy shift

Last week Environmental ProtectionAgency (EPA) Administrator Lee M. Thomas announced a new strategy-- including serious federal sanctions-- for states that still exceed the federal air-quality ozone standard by year end. The agency estimated last year that one in three U.S. citizens live in urban areas that exceed the standard for ozone, the major irritant in photochemical smog.

By now, such states are supposed tohave an EPA-approved plan for controlling air pollutants (such as hydrocarbons) likely to generate ozone. Under the plan, they would have to comply with the 0.12 parts per million ozone limit by Dec. 31, 1987.

Acknowledging that many areas willfail to meet this deadline "no matter how hard they try,' Thomas last year proposed a scheme that would have allowed major good-faith efforts by affected states to buy a temporary reprieve from federally mandated sanctions (SN: 6/28/86, p.405), including a construction ban on any project likely to increase ozone, as well as the possibility of withholding federal funds for state highway, sewer and air pollution programs. But in a turnabout, Thomas now says that whether or not out-of-compliance areas make heroic efforts to curb ozone, EPA will impose sanctions.

William Becker, executive director ofthe Washington, D.C.-based State and Territorial Air Pollution Program Administrators, prefers the policy Thomas proposed last June. He says that even though California has adopted some of the most aggressive ozone-control measures in the nation, its problem is so severe it could not devise a plan to meet the ozone standard. Now, he says, it faces a construction ban not just until it adopts an EPA-approved ozone-control plan, "but until it actually reaches attainment with the standard. Conceivably, that ban could be in effect for the next 50 years.'
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Author:Raloff, Janet
Publication:Science News
Date:Apr 18, 1987
Words:295
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