Planning for Ozone Standards

Ground-level ozone, best known as smog, is an air pollutant seen primarily in the summer and fall which can inhibit breathing and damage respiratory systems at higher concentrations. Breathing ozone is akin to giving your lungs a sunburn: the pollutant damages healthy cells and prolonged exposure can lead to serious health impacts.

Ozone levels in Yolo-Solano are in the healthy range on most days. However, ozone and its precursors don’t respect political boundaries, and emissions created within Yolo and Solano counties may affect neighboring communities, especially in the greater Sacramento region.  As such, the Yolo-Solano AQMD is included in the Sacramento Federal Non-attainment Area (SFNA) by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The U.S. EPA periodically reviews its air quality standards for regulated pollutants.  The EPA may also revise its standards when health studies indicate that a revision is necessary to protect the most sensitive segments of the population. 

Federal Ozone Attainment Plan

As a non-attainment area for the federal ozone standard, the Sacramento region is required to prepare various planning documents on an ongoing basis.  Each time a new standard is adopted by EPA, local air districts must prepare plans to show how the standard will be achieved by the appropriate deadline.  The Clean Air Act requires that nonattainment areas must submit certain elements into the State Implementation Plan (SIP).

2015 Ozone Standard (8 hour – 70 ppb)In 2015, EPA promulgated a new 8-hour National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) of 70 ppb.  In 2016, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) recommended in their report that the SFNA be designated non-attainment (based on 2014-2016 monitoring data).  The EPA published a final rule on June 4, 2018 (83 FR 25776) designating the Sacramento Metro area as moderate non-attainment.

On May 26, 2020 the districts in the SFNA sent a request to ARB to voluntarily reclassify from moderate to serious.  On August 3, 2020 ARB submitted this request to EPA.  On August 13, 2021 EPA published a proposed rule to reclassify the SFNA. On October 28, 2021 EPA published a final rule in the Federal Register (86 FR 59648) approving the reclassification.

On July 26, 2022 the districts in the SFNA sent a request to ARB to voluntarily reclassify from serious to severe.  On September 6, 2022 ARB submitted this request to EPA.

The Federal Clean Air Act (CAA), Part D, Section 182(b)(2) requires ozone non-attainment areas to implement reasonably available control technology (RACT) for certain categories of sources.  The District’s RACT SIP analysis (for the 2015 standard) was approved by the District’s Board of Directors on September 9, 2020.

The District was required to certify that our Non-attainment New Source Review (NNSR) program meets the requirements for the implementation of the 2015 ozone NAAQS.  Our Board certified this on June 9, 2021, and it has been submitted to ARB who will submit it to US EPA.

2008 Ozone Standard (8 hour – 75 ppb)

On February 3, 2017, the EPA published a Findings of Failure to Submit (FR 82 9158) for 15 states and the District of Columbia for certain required elements of the SIP, including several items for Yolo-Solano.

The District’s Board of Directors held a public hearing on October 11, 2017, and adopted the Sacramento Regional 2008 NAAQS 8-Hour Ozone Attainment and Reasonable Further Progress Plan (Plan).

Each of the districts in the reach adopted the plan and submitted documentation to ARB.  ARB adopted the Sacramento Ozone Plan on November 16, 2017 and submitted it to U.S. EPA as a revision to the California SIP on December 18, 2017.

Subsequently, in response to some court decisions the ARB Board adopted “2018 Updates to the California SIP” on October 25, 2018 and the update was submitted to US EPA.

The District’s RACT SIP analysis (for the 2008 standard) was approved by the District’s Board of Directors on September 13, 2017.  On May 8, 2018, EPA proposed approval (83 FR 21235) of the District’s negative declarations, and on July 3, 2018, EPA finalized the approval of the negative declarations (83 FR 31072).

On July 30, 2021 the EPA published a limited approval/limited disapproval (86 FR 40959) for District Rule 2.31 Solvent Cleaning and Degreasing, which had been SIP submitted as a RACT requirement for sources subject to a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) Control Techniques Guideline (CTG).  This disapproval started a sanctions clock 18 months after the effective date of August 30, 2021 and a highway sanctions 6 months later.  On December 13, 2022, EPA published a proposed approval (87 FR 76171) of Rule 2.31 and a Interim Final Determination (87 FR 76107) correcting the deficiency and deferring sanctions.  If the EPA finalizes it’s approval, the relief from these sanctions will become permanent.

The District was required to certify that our Non-attainment New Source Review (NNSR) program meets the requirements for the implementation of the 2008 ozone NAAQS.  Our Board certified this on March 14, 2018, and submitted it to EPA.  EPA published a final rule on December 13, 2018 (83 FR 64026) approving the certification.

1997 Ozone Standard (8 hour – 84 ppb)The region developed the Sacramento Regional 8-Hour Ozone Milestone Report (2011) to demonstrate how existing control strategies have provided the emission reductions needed to meet the federal Clean Air Act requirements for reasonable further progress toward attainment of the 1997 8-hour NAAQS.  In 2013 the regional air districts developed the Sacramento Regional 8-Hour Ozone Attainment and Reasonable Further Progress Plan to demonstrate how the region would attain the 1997 8-hour standard. This plan was approved by U.S. EPA effective March 2, 2015 (80 FR 4795). 

The District’s RACT SIP analysis (for the 1997 standard) was approved by the District’s Board of Directors in September, 2006.  The analysis was initially disapproved by EPA in 2008 (73 FR 48166), but EPA subsequently proposed to approve on January 8, 2018 (83 FR 764) and issued a final approval on April 6, 2018 (83 FR 14754).

1979 Ozone Standard (1 hour – 124 ppm) – The districts of the Sacramento region developed the attainment plan in November 1994, which shows how the region would attain the 1979 1-hour ozone NAAQS.   The 1-hour standard was revoked in 2004.  The EPA proposed approval of a clean data finding on May 18, 2011 (76 FR 28696) and final approval on October 18, 2012 (77 FR 64036).  The region developed an attainment determination request in 2010 and a supplemental report in 2012.  These documents were submitted to the EPA but never acted upon. The EPA asked that the request be updated under the redesignation substitution guidelines for the 2008 NAAQS.  A Redesignation Substitution Request for the 1979 1-Hour ozone standard was prepared and approved by the Sac Metro Air District Board and submitted to ARB in October 2017 to be forwarded to the EPA.  Once approved by EPA, this request will redesignate the SFNA to attainment and remove the previous Clean Air Act obligations associated with that standard.

The Exceptional Event Demonstration report shows how wildfires contributed to high 1 hour ozone concentrations in 2008.

State Ozone Plan

The California Clean Air Act (CCAA) of 1988 required the submission of a plan for attaining and maintaining state ambient air quality standards for ozone with subsequent updates every three years.  The District originally adopted an Air Quality Attainment Plan (AQAP) in 1991 and has completed seven triennial plan updates since then.

The most recent adopted triennial plan (May 2019) covers the years 2015-2017.  The document summarizes emission trends over this time period, forecasts future emissions, and reviews efforts made by the District to improve air quality.