Now it is officially official. The Baton Rouge area is in attainment of the 2008 federal ozone standard (0.75 ppm). EPA published their proposed redesignation of the area to attainment on November 4th and, after a period to take comments, published their final approval of redesignation December 27th, 2016.
While we celebrate this achievement, we are confronted by the fact that, based on the most recent ozone data, our area will probably fall back to nonattainment status with the new, more stringent ozone standard (0.70 ppm) promulgated in October 2015. This designation back to nonattainment status will occur in October of this year according to the new standard’s implementation schedule.
However, there are some uncertainties with this compliance schedule, brought by the November national elections. There has been considerable concern among a number of states about implementing the new 2015 standard while they are still working on their compliance with the 2008 standard. There are presently two instruments in congress that could remedy this situation. H. R. 4775 – Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2016 has been passed out of the House and referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. This Act specifies that EPA’s final designations under the 2015 Ozone Standard be set for October, 2025. Also, Senator Jeff Flake (AZ) is seeking a Senate floor vote on Senate Amendment 42, an amendment to the budget resolution, S.Cong.Res.3, to delay enforcement of the 2015 ozone standard until January 1, 2025. Given the sentiments of the new Trump administration, republican majorities in the house and senate, and those of the Scott Pruitt (proposed new EPA head), the odds of a delay in the implementation schedule for the 2015 ozone standard seem pretty good.