BALTIMORE, MD (January 3,2007) – Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties comprise the first nonattainment area in Maryland to comply with the revised 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard for the pollutant ground level ozone. In 2004, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified Kent and Queen Anne's Counties, located on Maryland's upper Eastern Shore, as an area that failed to meet the 8-hour ozone standard. EPA identified the air quality problem in the counties as “marginal” as opposed to the “moderate” classifications in the Baltimore and Washington regions. Throughout the state, MDE worked to gain the support of local businesses and government for a variety of pollution control measures. Businesses and citizens joined together to implement sufficient controls to reach the standard, even though it was far more than other “marginal” nonattainment areas had done. Pollution controls in the Baltimore and Washington “moderate” air quality regions have also helped Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties achieve clean air by reducing the amount of pollution carried from these heavily populated urban areas to the Eastern Shore by Maryland’s typical wind patterns.
Eligibility to request redesignation is based on measured air quality data. Over the period from 2003 to 2005, the local air monitoring station at Millington Wildlife Refuge in Kent County has shown air quality levels that meet the new 8-hour ozone standard. EPA requires that the average of three consecutive years worth of monitored ozone data be below the 8-hour standard, which is 0.08 parts per million (ppm). This average has been achieved at the Millington site. Further, from 1997 to 2005 there has been a steady decline in the number of exceedances of the 8-hour standard recorded at the Millington monitor.
Under the Clean Air Act (CAA), these counties were eligible to request redesignation to attainment of the 8-hour ozone standard provided they have a plan (called a “maintenance plan”) in place to maintain control of the pollutants that contribute to ozone formation. The Maryland Department of the Environment held a public hearing on the redesignation request and the maintenance plan on April 18, 2006 in Centerville in Queen Anne’s County. EPA reviewed MDE’s redesignation request and maintenance plan and issued a final rule redesignating the two counties to attain the 8-hour ozone standard on December 22, 2006.
Maryland Department of Environment (MDE) is pleased with this air quality achievement as though the implementation of the maintenance plan for these two counties commits to continuous efforts to clean the air. MDE will do its part to make sure Kent and Queen Anne's Counties, along with the rest of Maryland, continue to provide our citizens with clean air and a healthy environment.