City Might Suffer If Federal Air Quality Standards Are Not Changed
Bill May The Journal Record, THE JOURNAL RECORD
Central Oklahoma may be declared an area with dirty air next summer if federal air quality standards are not changed, according to Zach Taylor, executive director of the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments.
Ultra-stringent rules that could force the designation may not be allowed to stand, however.
"The federal courts have prohibited the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing those rules until further information is received," Taylor said.
Under the questioned rules, two measuring stations were near the limit of clean air standards in 1998 and 1999. If one more day is measured where one of the four measuring station shows air out of compliance, then the region could be declared a non-attainment region as early as July, Taylor told a meeting of the Clean Cities Coalition Tuesday.
"I strongly suggest that special options for this region be addressed," he said.
Among these is more use of alternative, clean-burning fuels in motor vehicles such as compressed natural gas, liquid natural gas and electricity. Other measures include urging people to get out of their cars and utilize public transportation during ozone alert days.
The problem isn't that the air has gotten dirtier, Taylor said, but the rules are more stringent now.
"If we were to be measured by the old rules we would be in attainment," he said.
When the EPA's standards were changed in November 1997, they were retroactive to the summer. "This is like you drove down the highway legally at 70 m.p.h. in June, but in September the speed limit was changed, so you got a ticket for driving the speed limit earlier," Taylor said.
Although the rules are complex and confusing, central Oklahoma could still be an attainment area.
Being declared in non-attainment could disrupt economic development efforts, by forcing existing companies to halt expansion plans or by not allowing new companies to come into the area. …