Centralina Air Quality Update

The federal Clean Air Act requires the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to designate areas as attainment or non-attainment to help implement air quality standards.  In a letter from NC Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) secretary, Donald van der Vaart, dated September 30, 2016, the State of North Carolina recommended that the entire state be considered in attainment for ozone based on DEQ analysis of the most recent air quality data for the state relative to the October 2015 8-hour standard for ozone.

As stated in its letter to EPA, the State of NC notes that air quality has dramatically improved across NC and this is especially notable for the Charlotte region.  Secretary van der Vaart goes on to credit these gains to the “hard work and partnerships with our many local, state, and federal partners.”

“This recommendation is historic for the Charlotte region, which has historically struggled to meet federal ozone standards” said Megan Green, Mecklenburg County Air Quality program manager. With a preliminary 2016 ozone compliance value of 70 parts per billion (ppb), Mecklenburg County narrowly met the standard, which is set at 70ppb.  Reducing ozone-forming air pollution through the support of local and regional air quality efforts should continue to be a priority for the region’s policy makers given that regional population and job growth is not expected to slow down any time soon.

"This recommendation is good news on several fronts.  In addition to the positive implications for our health and prosperity that come with improvements in Charlotte's air quality, we also expect traditional air quality related grant funding to remain available to the region while no new transportation modeling relative to air quality impacts will be required," said Jason Wager, Centralina COG's Planning Program Supervisor.

Although no new air related transportation modeling is expected, transportation officials will continue to operate as usual relative to the 2008 8-hour standard for ozone.  For example, transportation staff will make conformity determinations on planned and programmed transportation projects that show up in the Metropolitan Transportation Plan (MTP) and Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) until the 2008 standard is revoked.  Furthermore, “A designation of attainment will not affect the Regional Travel Demand modeling process,” confirms Anna Gallup, Program Manager, Metrolina Regional Model.

We anticipate that the greater Charlotte region will build on this good news by growing collaborative partnerships, such as those experienced among regional MPOs/RPOs and through the CONNECT Our Future project.

For more information on this topic, please contact Jason Wager at 704-348-2707 or jwager@centralina.org

Centralina Council of Governments collaborates with local governments along with transportation and air quality groups in the region to improve the environment and quality of life by monitoring trends and working with local leaders on effective land use, transportation, and technology strategies to reduce emissions.

Related Counties: AllCounties     
Related COG Areas: Planning