Environmental Protection Agency Sets New Limits for Smog-Forming Emissions
October 2, 2016 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency yesterday released a new standard for ground-level ozone, an air pollutant more commonly referred to as smog. The new standard of 70 parts per billion (ppb) is expected to reduce exposure to dangerous ozone levels, preventing thousands of asthma attacks and emergency room visits and hundreds of premature deaths each year, according to the Sacramento Bee. States have until between 2020 to 2037 to comply with the new standard, depending on the current severity of their ozone problems.

The new standard is below the current (2008) standard of 75 ppb but at the high end of a range announced by the EPA last fall, which hinted at the possibility of the standard being set as low as 60 to 65 ppb. 

The New York Times noted the annual cost to the economy of the new rule is estimated at $1.4 billion, making it one of the most expensive regulations in history. These costs are expected to be outweighed, however, by annual economic benefits estimated in the range of $2.9 billion to $5.9 billion annually. The economic benefit estimations result from fewer premature deaths, fewer asthma attacks, fewer missed days of school and work, and reduced healthcare expenses related to the impacts of air pollution.

An article in the LA Times provides a graphic comparison of the current and new standards by county, demonstrating which counties are in violation of the existing standard and which counties will be in violation when the new standard is implemented.  

According to Larry Greene, executive director of the Sacramento Metropolitan Air Quality Management District, "the Capital Region has steadily reduced ozone levels over many years, and we anticipate meeting this new standard on time...Cleaner trucks, vehicles, engines of all types, fuels, better land use patterns and reduced vehicle miles traveled are all providing us cleaner air each day, and helping us to attain federal and state health standards. The bottom line is that there is less pollution and better health for our residents because of the collaborative and many faceted programs we have incorporated." 

The Cleaner Air Partnership has been instrumental in the progress made toward meeting clean air standards. Through continued partnership and collaboration, we will continue to make strides to improve air quality in our region.

The Cleaner Air Partnership is a joint project of Breathe California of Sacramento-Emigrant Trails, the Sacramento Metro Chamber of Commerce and Valley Vision to help the Sacramento Region meet clean air standards that protect health and promote economic growth.