Augusta violates air rule

26 09 2008

By Rob Pavey|  Augusta Chronicle

Augusta has violated a stricter federal standard for measuring air pollution four times this year, increasing the likelihood it could face an unwanted “non-attainment” designation for flunking the U.S. Clean Air Act.

“It does look like we will be recommending the Augusta area for non-attainment for the new standard,” said Jimmy Johnston, the manager of Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Air Protection Branch.

Generally, in non-attainment areas, it can be more difficult for industries to obtain — or renew — permits to release industrial emissions. It also means stricter controls on outdoor burning, which Augusta already has through summer burning bans. It can also make it more difficult to obtain federal transportation money.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new standard for ozone, unveiled in March, lowered the allowable concentration in the air to no more than 0.075 parts per million, stricter than the old standard of 0.085. In Augusta, all four violations this year — ranging from 0.0077 to 0.082 parts per million — would not have violated the old standard, but exceeded the new one.

Next March, EPD must make recommendations to EPA regarding which Georgia communities should be declared in non-attainment, Mr. Johnston said. The designations would take effect in 2010 and could trigger restrictions on industrial air permits and transportation projects.

Read on here.