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U.S. EPA announces intent to reclassify Valley air to extreme

Release Date: 2/13/2004
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, (415) 947-4307

SAN FRANCISCO The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency intends to reclassify the San Joaquin Valley as an extreme non-attainment area under the federal one-hour ozone standard.

The EPA is also proposing an enforceable schedule, subject to public comment, which outlines a time line for the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to enact air quality requirements for an extreme non-attainment area.

"The proposed schedules put the district on an aggressive track to develop and adopt the plans that will bring clean air to Valley residents," said Deborah Jordan, the director of the EPA's air division in the Pacific Southwest Region. "It is important to keep the momentum so that clean air will be a reality in the Valley."

The California Air Resources Board recently requested to downgrade the Valley's air quality classification from severe to extreme because the Valley could not attain the standard by 2005 as required by law. The extreme classification requires tighter limits on air pollution sources.

The public is encouraged to comment on the time line laid out in the proposed rule. The EPA proposed that by Oct. 1, a revised plan showing how the area will attain the health based one-hour standard would be submitted. Rules incorporating the extreme area permitting requirements would be submitted within one year of the reclassification.

Ground-level ozone air quality in the San Joaquin Valley has generally improved over the past several decades, but not as quickly as required by federal law.

The Valley exceeded the national ozone standard 37 times in 2003.

A copy of the proposed schedule will soon be available in the Air Programs section of the EPA Region 9 website, http://www.epa.gov/region09/air/sjvalley/
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