Ozone and PM2.5 Regional Planning Activities

Section 174 of the Clean Air Act requires that areas of the Commonwealth that do not comply with ozone or fine particulate matter (PM2.5) national ambient air quality standards (NAAQS) form lead planning organizations (LPOs). LPO members are elected officials from the localities in the nonattainment area and representatives of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transport (VDRPT), and the metropolitan planning organizations within the nonattainment area. Other people, such as private citizens and representatives of industry, military installations, and environmental groups, may also participate in the LPOs in an advisory capacity.

The purpose of the LPO in a nonattainment area is to assist in carrying out planning requirements for that area. Planning activities can include examining baseline emissions levels to determine necessary control strategies, examining transportation needs for future growth, and if necessary, creating plans for EPA review and approval to bring the area into attainment with the air quality standards. The extent of the planning requirements depends on the classification of the nonattainment area and the severity of the air pollution problem.

EPA is responsible for designating nonattainment and attainment/maintenance areas for the Commonwealth. Nonattainment and maintenance areas generally correspond to VOC and NOX emissions control areas. Virginia implements additional federal nonattainment and maintenance requirements within these control areas. Additionally, Virginia may designate certain areas of the state as VOC and NOX emissions control areas in order to implement requirements as needed to protect air quality. A list of VOC and NOX emissions control areas is found in the Regulations for the Control and Abatement of Air Pollution at 9VAC5-20-206.

The DEQ has established LPOs for three areas:

  • The Metropolitan Richmond Air Quality Committee (MRAQC)
  • The George Washington Air Quality Committee (GWAQC)
  • The Hampton Roads Air Quality Committee (HRAQC)

Additionally, DEQ has established a northern Virginia delegation for the LPO responsible for the metropolitan Washington, D.C. area. This area consists of northern Virginia, Washington, D.C., and southern Maryland; therefore, the LPO for this area contains representatives from all three jurisdictions as well as members representing each state’s transportation and air quality agencies. This LPO is the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Committee (MWAQC).

Metropolitan Washington Information

For the 2015 ozone NAAQS, EPA designated the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area as nonattainment with a classification of marginal on June 4, 2018. This area includes nine jurisdictions in Virginia: Arlington County, Fairfax County, Loudoun County, Prince William County, the City of Alexandria, City of Fairfax, the City of Falls Church, the City of Manassas, and the City of Manassas Park. Based on timelines within the Clean Air Act, this area must submit a base year emissions inventory for the 2015 ozone NAAQS in 2020.

EPA had originally designated the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, including northern Virginia, as nonattainment with a classification of marginal for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. Air quality improved such that the area submitted a 2008 ozone NAAQS redesignation request and maintenance plan for this standard. EPA proposed approval of the 2008 ozone NAAQS redesignation request and maintenance plan on August 8, 2018.

EPA had also designated the Metropolitan Washington, D.C. area, including northern Virginia, as a nonattainment area with a classification of moderate for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. The area developed and submitted an attainment plan for the 1997 ozone NAAQS along with a base year inventory to satisfy Clean Air Act requirements. EPA issued final approval of the 1997 ozone NAAQS plan of the plan on April 10, 2015.

For the 1997 PM 2.5 NAAQS, EPA designated the Metropolitan Washington, D. C. area, including northern Virginia, as a nonattainment area. Air quality improved, and the area developed and submitted a redesignation request and maintenance plan for the 1997 PM 2.5 NAAQS. EPA issued final approval of the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS redesignation on October 6, 2014, redesignating the area to attainment/maintenance for the 1997 PM2.5 NAAQS. For the 2006 PM2.5 NAAQS and the 2012 PM2.5 NAAQS, EPA designated the Washington, D.C. area as attaining the standard. All other areas within Virginia were also designated attainment for these standards, and therefore the Clean Air Act required no further revisions to Virginia's state implementation plan for these PM2.5 NAAQS.

Fredericksburg Information

For both the 2015 ozone NAAQS and the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA originally designated the Fredericksburg area, consisting of the Counties of Stafford and Spotsylvania and the City of Fredericksburg, as attaining each standard. For the 1997 ozone NAAQS, EPA designated the Fredericksburg area as nonattainment with a classification of moderate. Air quality improved, and the Fredericksburg area developed and submitted a redesignation request and maintenance plan for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. EPA published final approval of the Fredericksburg area 1997 ozone NAAQS redesignation December 23, 2005.

Metropolitan Richmond Information

For both the 2015 ozone NAAQS and the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA originally designated the Metropolitan Richmond (Richmond-Petersburg) area, consisting of the Counties of Prince George, Hanover, Charles City, Henrico, and Chesterfield, and the Cities of Colonial Heights, Petersburg, Richmond, and Hopewell, as attaining each standard. EPA designated the Richmond-Petersburg area as nonattainment with a classification of moderate for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. Air quality improved, and the Richmond-Petersburg area developed and submitted a redesignation request and maintenance plan for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. EPA published final approval for the Richmond-Petersburg 1997 ozone NAAQS redesignation request and maintenance plan in the Federal Register on June 1, 2007.

Hampton Roads Information

For both the 2015 ozone NAAQS and the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA originally designated the Hampton Roads area, consisting of the Counties of Gloucester, Isle of Wight, James City, and York, and the Cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Newport News, Norfolk, Poquoson, Portsmouth, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and Williamsburg, as attainment. EPA designated the Hampton Roads area as nonattainment with a classification of marginal for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. Air quality subsequently improved, and the Hampton Roads area developed and submitted a redesignation request and maintenance plan for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. EPA published final approval for the Hampton Roads 1997 ozone NAAQS redesignation request and maintenance plan in the Federal Register on June 1, 2007.

Shenandoah National Park Information

For both the 2015 ozone NAAQS and the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA originally designated the portions of Page County and Madison County located in the Shenandoah National Park as attaining each standard. EPA designated this portion of the Shenandoah National Park as nonattainment for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. Subsequent years' monitoring data demonstrated air quality improvement in the Shenandoah National Park, and therefore DEQ applied for redesignation of this area to attainment status for the 1997 8-hour ozone air quality standard. This plan was created in conjunction with the National Park Service. EPA published final approval of the Shenandoah National Park redesignation for the 1997 ozone NAAQS on January 3, 2006.

Ozone Advance Action Plans (2008 Ozone NAAQS)

On May 21, 2012, EPA designated Caroline County, the Fredericksburg area, the Richmond-Petersburg area, and the Hampton Roads area as attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS. These designations were based mainly on the air quality data in each region from 2009, 2010, and 2011.

In April 2012, EPA also published guidance on a new program, Ozone Advance, which encouraged areas to establish a voluntary Action Plan for the reduction of ozone precursor emissions to the atmosphere. These Action Plans have two main purposes. First, the programs within the plans help areas to maintain healthy air quality. Second, the plans may act as guides to help these areas make further improvements in air quality and get a head start on complying with future NAAQS.

DEQ, in cooperation with the metropolitan planning organizations, local elected officials, and several other important stakeholders, created Ozone Advance Action Plans for the Fredericksburg area, the Hampton Roads area, the Richmond-Petersburg area, and Caroline County. These plans detailed numerous programs that resulted in significant emission reductions in each area and the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Early Action Compacts (1997 Ozone NAAQS)

For both the 2015 ozone NAAQS and the 2008 ozone NAAQS, EPA originally designated the Roanoke and Winchester areas as attaining each standard. However, from 1998 through 2002, air monitoring data showed that these localities were in danger of being designated nonattainment for the 1997 ozone NAAQS. By entering into Early Action Compacts, the Roanoke and Winchester areas were able to avoid the 1997 ozone NAAQS nonattainment designation. These compacts reduced emissions to a level that enabled the areas to attain the ozone standard sooner than otherwise required (by 2007 rather than 2010). Specific measures in the compacts include the control of open burning during the summer ozone season, and permits for certain facilities that limited VOC emissions.

The Northern Shenandoah Valley Ozone Early Action Compact for the City of Winchester and Frederick County was submitted to EPA on December 20, 2004. The Roanoke Ozone Early Action Compact for the Counties of Botetourt and Roanoke and the Cities of Roanoke and Salem was submitted on December 21, 2004. EPA ultimately designated the areas as attainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone standard on April 2, 2008.

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Virginia Department of
Environmental Quality
P.O. Box 1105
Richmond, VA 23218
(804) 698-4000


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