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2001 News Releases


EPA Approves Connecticut's Plan for Complying With Air Pollution Standards

Release Date: 12/13/2001
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office (617-918-1008)

BOSTON – The US Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the agency has approved the state of Connecticut's plan for coming into compliance with air pollution standards. The plan, formally known as the State Implementation Plan (SIP), details steps the state is taking and will take in the future to ensure it meets air pollution standards by 2007. The plan was published this week in the Federal Register.

The plan, developed by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, is focused on ensuring the state meets the health-based 1-hour outdoor air standard for ozone (smog). Ground level ozone, the main ingredient of smog, can cause serious breathing problems, aggravate asthma and other pre-existing lung diseases, and make people more susceptible to respiratory infection. The most common symptoms of ozone exposure are coughing, pain when taking a deep breath, and for people with respiratory disease, shortness of breath.

The plan is already working to control emissions through such actions as:

    • a vehicle inspection and maintenance program that was put in place in 1998;
    • cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline, first put into effect in 1995 and made more stringent in 2000;
    • vapor recovery requirements for gas pumps in place since the early 90s;
    • and emission reduction requirements for power plants and other large industrial sources including trash incinerators. The requirements were put in place in 1999 and are scheduled to be tightened in 2003.
Connecticut's plan also assumes air pollution reductions resulting from stringent standards adopted by EPA for new cars, trucks and non-road vehicles such as construction equipment and gasoline-powered lawn and garden equipment. The new automobile standards, which will further reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 77 percent for cars and 92 percent for trucks and sport utility vehicles, will kick into effect in 2004. In addition, Connecticut will benefit from regulations adopted by states pursuant to EPA's final Regional Transport of Ozone Rule, which requires 21 eastern states and the District of Columbia to submit State Implementation Plans that address the regional transport of ground-level ozone through reductions in nitrogen oxides.

"Today's approval of the clean air plan for Connecticut marks an important step toward our shared goal of providing clean air for all of Connecticut," said Robert Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "Our goal is to completely eliminate unhealthful levels of smog so children can safely play outside on all days and people with respiratory disease will not have difficulty breathing."

"Connecticut has long been a leader working to achieve cleaner air for its citizens," added Arthur J. Rocque, Jr., commissioner of CT-DEP. "The plan approved today represents years of hard work by DEP staff and contains many innovative methods to control air emission in the state. The plan involves a multi-faceted approach including the use of cleaner fuels, rigorous vehicle inspections, and strict requirements for power plant emissions. Many of these programs are already in place making Connecticut's air cleaner."

The approval is the latest milestone in a process started by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. Throughout the plan's development, Connecticut worked closely with EPA, neighboring states, and business and industry organizations in identifying air pollution controls to help Connecticut meet the national 1-hour standard for ozone. The Ozone Air Quality Plan approved by EPA covers southwestern Connecticut, the portion of the state that is part of the New York city metropolitan area. The Ozone Air Quality Plan for the remainder of Connecticut was approved by EPA in December, 2000.

In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court made a landmark decision upholding EPA's revised ozone standard. Work on implementing that standard is proceeding. In 2001, the 8-hour ozone standard was exceeded on 26 separate days in Connecticut, and further reductions in emissions and transport will be needed to achieve that standard.

A proposed approval of the Connecticut plan for the New York City metropolitan area was published for public comment Aug. 10. Extensive comments were provided by environmental and industry representatives. EPA reviewed and responded to all of these comments before making its decision.

Throughout Connecticut, the results of the emission control programs in place are being observed. Air emissions in Connecticut of two key components that form ozone – volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides – were down significantly between 1990 and 1999. Volatile organic compounds, mostly emitted by cars, trucks, paints and solvents, have dropped by 26 percent. Nitrogen oxides, mostly emitted by cars, trucks and fuel burning equipment such as electric power plants, have dropped by 19 percent. These will continue to decrease in the years ahead because of air quality regulations written by DEP.

Data on the 1-hour ozone standard also show significant improvement in Connecticut. In the early 1980s, Connecticut experienced as many to 50 to 60 days in a year when the 1-hour ozone standard was exceeded. In 2001, preliminary data indicate that there were only 9 days when the 1-hour ozone standard was exceeded. The plan approved today will continue this downward trend toward meeting the 1-hour ozone standard and should result in ozone levels below the standard by 2007.

In the future, Connecticut will be required to adopt a similar plan showing how it will meet the tighter 8-hour ozone standard that EPA adopted in 1997.