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BAY AREA AIR PLAN FAILS TO PROVIDE HEALTHY AIR

Release Date: 3/21/2001
Contact Information: Leo Kay, Press Office, 415/744-2201

     SAN FRANCISCO   The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that it is proposing to disapprove parts of the 1999 Bay Area Ozone Attainment Plan due to continuing smog violations last year.

     "While the 1999 plan yielded some tangible results in our ongoing effort to reduce smog in the Bay Area, it wasn't enough.  We are still experiencing too many bad air days," said Deborah Jordan, associate director of the U.S. EPA's Air Division in San Francisco.  "It's now up to the local agencies to take a fresh look at the problem and come up with a strategy to fix it."

     The authors of the plan the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission   have given the EPA a tentative schedule to submit a revised plan this summer.  

     Ozone, although beneficial in the stratosphere, has harmful health effects when found at ground level.  Exposure to ground-level ozone, even at relatively low levels, can cause respiratory symptoms such as a reduction in lung function, chest pain, and cough.  Repeated exposure can make people more susceptible to respiratory infection and lung inflammation, and can aggravate pre-existing respiratory diseases.

     In July 1998, the EPA formally declared that the Bay Area=s air was not meeting the federal health standard for ozone.  The EPA set an attainment deadline of November 15, 2000 and required the state and local air quality planning agencies to come up with a strategy to meet that deadline.

     Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the EPA in January after the agency failed meet an Oct. 28, 2000 deadline to either approve or disapprove the 1999 plan.

     The EPA will take public comment on the proposed rulemaking for 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register.  A copy of the proposal is available at
http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/sfbayoz/.  A final decision to approve or disapprove the plan will not be made until after public notice and comment on the proposal.

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