BALTIMORE, MD (November 17, 2008) – Today Maryland Department of the Environment Secretary Shari T. Wilson released the following statement:
The Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) has learned that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is likely to ask Maryland to voluntarily reclassify the Baltimore and Cecil County ozone non-attainment areas from “moderate” to “serious” under the Clean Air Act. If Maryland does not do so, we understand that the EPA intends to deny approval of Maryland’s Ozone State Implementation Plan, or “SIP,” in early January. The Ozone SIP is the plan of action Maryland will use to meet the federal ozone standard by 2010.
First and foremost, MDE remains fully committed to taking whatever actions are necessary to meet the federal air quality standard for ozone. Ozone pollution in Maryland has been reduced dramatically over the past five years. MDE believes that the SIP submitted to EPA for approval in 2007 is a strong plan, and will enable Maryland to meet the 2010 deadline. The plan includes the Healthy Air Act, the country’s toughest power plant control program, and hundreds of other programs that reduce emissions from cars, trucks, manufacturers, small businesses, and thousands of consumer products such as paint and lawn mowers.
While MDE will review every possible course of action in response to this anticipated request from EPA, we are puzzled by this pending EPA action. Reclassifying the Baltimore area and Cecil County as “serious” non-attainment areas will have the effect of delaying clean air deadlines for another two years, to 2012. This delay is unnecessary and is not in the interest of protecting the health of Marylanders. It is our understanding that EPA asserts air monitoring data collected though 2008 shows it will be difficult for these areas to meet the ozone standard by 2010. However, the Clean Air Act allows EPA to require more from Maryland in 2009 if air quality data shows it is necessary. Therefore, we believe this request is premature and has the impact of delaying clean air deadlines.
MDE is continuing to examine the reasons for this perplexing eleventh hour request from EPA.
For information on Maryland’s State Implementation Plans:
For more information on EPA’s ozone standards:
For more information on Maryland’s Healthy Air Act: