Ohio EPA Launches Air Emissions Banking System

COLUMBUS, Ohio, January 21, 2009 (ENS) – The Ohio EPA has introduced a new online voluntary air emissions credit banking system to make it easier for companies to build or expand in Ohio counties that cannot meet federal air quality standards.

Currently, 32 out of Ohio’s 88 counties do not meet federal standards for particulate matter and ozone.

“The emissions bank can help buyers and sellers of emission credits connect quickly and easily, which is a big plus in today’s fast-paced business environment,” said Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski.

Under the Clean Air Act, a major emissions source, such as a factory or power plant, cannot construct in a nonattainment area unless it obtains emission reduction credits, also known as emission offsets.

An emission reduction credit represents a permanent, quantifiable, federally enforceable and surplus reduction in air pollutant emission that exceeds the amount of reduction required under state or federal law. It is measured in tons per year.

If a new facility wanted to locate in a nonattainment area and planned to emit 100 tons of carbon monoxide per year, it would need to obtain that amount of reductions, or credits, from another source.

Gavin is the largest power plant in Ohio and has two of the seven largest coal-fired generating units ever built. (Photo courtesy AEP)

It can be time consuming and difficult for companies to find and verify available emission offsets. As a result, they often exclude nonattainment areas when considering where to locate a new facility.

“We hope this will help foster economic activity in nonattainment areas, while still allowing us to improve air quality in these same areas,” Korleski said.

Ohio must meet federal air quality standards for nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, sulfur dioxide, fine particulates, carbon monoxide and lead.

Ohio currently has designated nonattainment areas for the eight-hour ozone standard and the particulate matter 2.5 standard. The entire state is in attainment for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead.

The eight-hour ozone standard is not being attained in areas of Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland-Akron, and Columbus.

The PM 2.5 standard is not being met in: Adams County’s Monroe and Sprigg Townships; Ashtabula County’s Ashtabula Township; Coshocton County’s Franklin Township; and Gallia County’s Cheshire Township.

In December, the U.S. EPA announced designations for the 24 hour ozone standard for fine particle pollution, PM 2.5, which is emitted by diesel engines, power plants, foundries.

“These new designations are a continued alarm to Ohio officials that they must do more to protect public health. Failing to meet the standard for particle pollution means our communities are at risk and are suffering,” said David Celebreeze, director of air and water special projects with the Ohio Environmental Council.

If the state fails to meet the standard, the federal government could withhold funds for highways.

Ohio has submitted plans to the U.S. EPA to lower pollution levels in ozone nonattainment areas. Ohio EPA said in a statement that its goal is to bring these areas back into attainment, improving the areas’ quality of life and the local economy.

The state of Ohio is required to submit to the U.S. EPA a State Implementation Plan that will achieve attainment of federal standards for particle pollution by 2014.

View This Story On Eco–mmunity Map.