Press Release

ANNAPOLIS, MD – In an effort to improve air quality in the National Capital Region, Maryland Governor Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., Virginia Governor Mark R. Warner and District of Columbia Mayor Anthony A. Williams today announced the creation of the Interstate Air Quality Council (IAQC). The new council will work with the Metropolitan Washington Air Quality Council (MWAQC) and help streamline planning to meet new federal standards for ozone and fine particulates.

Following a series of regional summits, the Governors and Mayor tasked their respective Environment and Transportation Secretaries to review the regional air quality planning process in the National Capital Region to ensure the mutual goals of improved air quality and efficient transportation are met.

Maryland will serve as chair of the council. The six Secretaries will serve on the IAQC, which will provide budgets and schedules to the MWAQC and retain final approval authority over state plans to meet the new federal eight-hour ozone standard.

“Our air is the cleanest it has been in twenty years and we are committed to continuing that trend,” said Governor Ehrlich. “We have reduced local emissions by 40 percent in the past decade, but our work is not done. This council will provide greater responsibility and accountability for meeting our regional air quality goals. I want to thank Governor Warner and Mayor Williams for their continued commitment to improving air quality in the national capital region.”

“We have been able to work together to solve real world problems,” said Governor Warner. “This Council will allow us to address the connected issues of childhood asthma in the District of Columbia, regional air quality, and traffic congestion.”

"At our fourth regional meeting, Governor Warner, Governor Ehrlich and I found major areas of commonality - the agreement we signed on air quality will go a long way to addressing a significant issue that spans jurisdictions," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams. "Working together as a region is critical as we seek to improve our shared resources -- our air, our water and our public lands."

In the last year, Maryland has taken significant action to improve local and regional air quality. Governor Ehrlich has supported and been focused on both our air quality and transportation systems improvements within the region. They include:

Requiring regional power plants to reduce harmful smokestack emissions by installing new technology to clean the air;

  • Enactment of statewide legislation requiring manufacturing compliance with lower emission limits on more than 60 consumer products (e.g. perfumes, paints, coatings);

  • Purchase of cleaner burning diesel transit buses to greatly reduce their pollution in urban areas;

  • Increases in telework by state and private employees and promotion of flexible work schedules to further reduce congestion during our peak commuting hours;

  • Stronger promotion of the science of air transport pollution, which further complicates cleaning the air;

  • Securing from EPA the Early Action Compact (EAC) designation for one of our western Maryland counties thereby avoiding the more stringent AQ designation and recognition of air quality improvement in this region;

  • Development of suburban Maryland’s Inter-County Connector (ICC) roadway;

  • Enhancement of traffic signal synchronization to reduce needless idling;

  • Establishment of CapWIN (Capital Wireless Integrated Network System) to improve coordination during major transportation incidents;

  • Expansion of planned bike and pedestrian bikeways and pathways to offer alternative means of transportation for work or recreation;

  • Expansion of disability access and awareness in the public transit system.