In May 2008, the EPA established new 8-hour primary and secondary ozone standards equal to 0.075 ppm. This represented a significant tightening over the previous 0.08 ppm 8-hour standard. However, a little more than a year later, in September 2009, EPA announced that it was going to reconsider the recently revised standards. EPA was now of an opinion that scientific evidence as to the effects of ozone on children and other “at risk” members of the population warranted a reconsideration of the primary standard and that impacts on vegetation and forested ecosystems warranted reconsideration of the secondary standard. In January 2010, EPA promulgated a proposal that would set the primary standard between 60 and 70 ppb and would establish a cumulative secondary standard within a range of 7-15 ppm-hours. Originally scheduled for final promulgation by August 31, 2010, EPA is now anticipating announcement of the new standards by the end of October 2010. Dependent upon where the ozone standards are set, regulatory agencies may be dealing with a large increase in the number of counties that are designated as not in attainment of one or both of the revised standards. Using Texas as an example, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has conveyed that a primary ozone standard set toward the lower end of the proposed range may result in every county in the state with an ozone monitor – excepting two counties in West Texas – being designated nonattainment. Designing and implementing State Implementation Plans that will demonstrate attainment with a primary standard that approaches, in some areas, background concentrations will pose a very significant challenge for regulatory agencies and the industries that they regulate. This paper will review the revised standards, potential implications with respect to attainment designations, potential SIP strategies for key ethylene producing states, and opportunities for regulated entities to engage in the process.
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