State air-quality agencies’ report tracks pollution control progress

State and local air-quality agencies have made steady progress in virtually every air-pollution control measurement, the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA) said as it released a new report on Apr. 17.

State and local air-quality agencies have made steady progress in virtually every air-pollution control measurement, the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA) said as it released a new report on Apr. 17.

“The Greatest Story Seldom Told: Profiles & Success Stories in Air Pollution Control” includes key metrics from concentrations of criteria pollutants like ground-level ozone and air releases of toxic chemicals to compliance and enforcement activity and operating permit renewals, the Lexington, Ky., organization said.

“Air quality has improved dramatically, and ambient air monitoring data continues to reveal the downward trend of air pollutants. It is, perhaps, the greatest story seldom told, and one that is certainly worth telling,” noted AAPCA Pres. Sean Alteri, who directs Kentucky’s Division for Air Quality.

The report noted that:

• As of 2015, combined emissions of the six criteria air pollutants for which there are national ambient air quality standards were down 71% since 1970.

• During 2005-15, reported toxic air releases were down 56%, or more than 851 million lb., and AAPCA’s 40 state members accounted for nearly two thirds of the total reduction.

• In 2016, states performed full compliance evaluations for more than 14,500 facilities, 80 times the number the US Environmental Protection Agency conducted. From 2010 to 2014, AAPCA member states performed full compliance evaluations at nearly 47% of facilities annually, well ahead of the national average.

• According to EPA, AAPCA member states issued permits more efficiently in 2016, with only a 15% backlog of Title 5 permit renewals among states with more than 100 sources.

• AAPCA member states saw nitrogen oxide emissions fall more rapidly than the national average during 2000-15.

• As of 2014, AAPCA member states had reduced power plant sulfur dioxide emissions by more than 8 million tons compared with 1990 levels.

• During 2000-14, per capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions were down an average 18.1% in the US, with AAPCA member states averaging a 19.3% reduction.

• The US has far exceeded international air-quality improvement trends, with some of the lowest levels of average annual fine particulate matter and the largest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the world during the past decade.

“AAPCA members, who have primary responsibility for air quality in parts of the country growing in population and economic activity, have demonstrated leadership across all key metrics of air-quality success,” observed Vice-Pres. Stuart Spencer of the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality. “The ‘greatest story seldom told’ helps illustrate that, even under increasingly stringent national standards, these agencies are succeeding and innovating.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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