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Air Quality

SC's Early Action Plan for the 8-hour Ozone Standard

The health of the citizens of South Carolina is a primary concern and S.C. DHEC continues to seek proactive measures to meet our commitment to public health and environmental protection. In 2002, South Carolina led the nation with forty-five of forty-six counties participating in the 1997 8-hour Ozone Early Action Compact (EAC) process. Local strategies were implemented by these counties that more than likely would not have been had the counties been required to focus on "traditional" nonattainment requirements. Those affected by the Clean Air Act (CAA) prescriptive requirements of a traditional nonattainment designation, at a minimum industry, transportation and air quality partners, would have been required to be engaged in the process. With the EAC efforts, many more partners were at the table and were engaged in the process even more so if the area had been designated nonattainment through the traditional nonattainment process.

In December 2007, South Carolina provided EPA with documentation demonstrating that local stakeholders, when given the flexibility to implement programs geared toward reducing oxides of nitrogen emissions, do have an impact on reducing the formation of ozone. In April 2008, based on ambient air monitoring data for 2005, 2006, and 2007, the areas in South Carolina designated as nonattainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone standard with the effective date deferred were redesignated to attainment. Each of the diverse stakeholders joined forces to provide cleaner air sooner to the citizens of South Carolina to achieve this worthwhile, common goal.

Strong commitments by local stakeholders, including local governments, as well as local industry and environmental groups working together, in conjunction with regional and state-wide efforts have been very successful as demonstrated through the success of the 1997 8-hour Ozone EAC process. Stakeholders given the flexibility to implement programs geared toward reducing oxides of nitrogen emissions does have an impact on the formation of ozone. S.C. DHEC, along with the stakeholders in our State, continues to dedicate resources to the efforts of improving air quality and meeting new standards earlier than federally required or before designations occur. The state-wide success of the EAC process opened the door to awareness for not only ground-level ozone but other air quality standards and issues as well, such as particulate matter and greenhouse gases.

Questions about the Early Action Plan?  Please contact Nelson Roberts by phone at (803)898-4122 or by email.