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 the national ambient air quality standards 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 denotes these control areas in order to implement federal nonattainment and maintenance requirements at the state level.  Additionally, Virginia may denote certain areas of the state as VOC and NOX emissions control areas in order to implement additional 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:

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).
 

Fredericksburg Information

The Fredericksburg nonattainment area had the opportunity to apply for redesignation to attainment status for the 1997 8-hour ozone air quality standard since monitoring data for 2004 showed air quality improvement.  The GWAQC helped develop both the maintenance plan and the redesignation request for the area. DEQ conducted a public hearing on these proposals on April 20, 2005, and the maintenance plan and redesignation request were sent to EPA Region III for review and approval. The final approval for these documents was published in the Federal Register on December 23, 2005.

In March 2010, EPA published the final approval for an updated mobile vehicle emissions model, called MOVES2010. Due to the change in emissions estimation technology, the mobile vehicle emission budgets in the Fredericksburg Maintenance Plan needed to be updated. This update was created with input from VDOT and the Fredericksburg Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. DEQ conducted a public hearing about this proposed update on September 19, 2011, and the updated maintenance plan and technical support document were sent to EPA Region III for review and approval on September 26, 2011. 

Shenandoah National Park Information

Monitoring data for 2004 showed air quality improvement in the Shenandoah National Park, and therefore DEQ also 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. The final approval for the Shenandoah National Park nonattainment area redesignation request was published in the Federal Register on January 3, 2006. 

Metropolitan Richmond Information

The Metropolitan Richmond (Richmond-Petersburg) nonattainment area applied for redesignation to attainment status for the 1997 8-hour ozone air quality standard because the monitoring data for 2005 showed air quality improvement. The MRAQC helped develop both the maintenance plan and the redesignation request for the area. DEQ conducted a public hearing for these documents on August 21, 2006. These documents were sent to EPA Region III in September 2006 for final review and approval. EPA published final approval for the redesignation request and maintenance plan in the Federal Register on June 1, 2007.

Hampton Roads Information

The Hampton Roads nonattainment area also had the opportunity to apply for redesignation to attainment status for the 1997 8-hour ozone air quality standard since the monitoring data for 2005 showed air quality improvement. The HRAQC helped develop both the maintenance plan and the redesignation request for the area.  DEQ conducted a public hearing on July 19, 2006, to receive testimony on these documents.  These documents were subsequently sent to EPA Region III in October 2006 for final review and approval. Final approval was published in the Federal Register on June 1, 2007.

Early Action Compacts

From 1998 through 2002, air monitoring data showed that certain localities were in danger of being designated nonattainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone standard. By entering into Early Action Compacts, the Roanoke and Winchester areas were able to avoid the 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 facility permits limiting VOC emissions. The mechanism used by DEQ to implement these measures is the list of VOC Emissions Control Areas.

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. These areas were ultimately designated as attainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone standard on April 2, 2008.

Metropolitan Washington Information 

The Metropolitan Washington nonattainment area developed and submitted an 8-hour ozone attainment plan along with a base year inventory to satisfy Clean Air Act requirements. DEQ held public hearings on the 8-hour ozone attainment plan on April 24, 2007, and April 26, 2007. The final 8-hour ozone attainment plan was submitted to EPA by DEQ on June12, 2007. This plan and inventory is available to the public at: http://www.mwcog.org/environment/air/SIP/default.asp. EPA issued final approval of the plan on April 10, 2015.

The Metropolitan Washington nonattainment area also developed and submitted a PM2.5 attainment plan to address the 1997 PM 2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards. DEQ held a public hearing on this document January 29, 2008. The final PM2.5 attainment plan for the Metropolitan Washington area was submitted to EPA on April 4, 2008; EPA issued final approval of the plan on October 6, 2014.

Ozone Advance Action Plans

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 national ambient air quality standards (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 any future NAAQS, such as the ozone NAAQS scheduled to be finalized by EPA in 2014. 

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, and the Richmond-Petersburg area. Work on the Ozone Advance Action Plan for Caroline County is in progress, and Caroline County’s Action Plan should be ready by the fall of 2013. These plans detail numerous programs that will result in significant emission reductions in each area and the Commonwealth of Virginia by 2020.

Appendices to these documents are available on request.

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


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