EPA’s changes to test county

Stricter new air quality standards were proposed Thursday by the Environmental Protection Agency, and Clark County is expected to have a tough time meeting them.

“It’s a very tight standard. It will be very difficult to meet,” Dennis Ransel, air planning manager for the county’s Department of Air Quality and Environmental Management, said about the agency’s effort to reduce levels of harmful ground-level ozone, a major component of smog.

At minimum, Clark County in a few years probably will be required to submit a plan to the EPA for reducing ozone pollution that will entail such measures as requiring the sale of cleaner gasoline and boosting its smog-check and voluntary ride-sharing programs.

Failing to comply under a state plan could result in federal management of a more effective plan or loss of federal highway funding in the county and other noncompliant areas in the state, an action that EPA officials previously have said would be remote.

The county faces an uphill battle to curb ozone, considering five out of 13 of its monitoring stations do not meet the current standard that was set in 2008 by the Bush administration amid controversy spurred by scientists who contended it was too lenient.

EPA’s proposal is to replace the current 75 parts per billion limit on allowable concentration of ground-level ozone with a more strict standard of between 60 to 70 parts per billion.

For illustration purposes, 70 parts per billion is about the same volume as one pingpong ball in 14 Olympic-size swimming pools.

“Everything in the Las Vegas Valley will exceed the standard, even our (monitoring) site at Jean will exceed it,” Ransel said.

After a new EPA smog standard is finalized in about a year, Clark County and hundreds of other areas across the nation are expected to be designated in August 2011 as areas that violate the standard. Then the county will have until 2013 to develop a plan for demonstrating compliance.

Depending on how severe the ozone problem is, the EPA will give Clark County a time frame for compliance. More congested areas such as those in California will have longer periods to demonstrate compliance. “We have less of a way to go to meet the standard,” Ransel said.

But he expects state and county officials will try to persuade the EPA to make exceptions for Nevada’s ability to comply with the standard when smog from wildfires and pollution sources drifts into the state from Southern California and other areas of the West.

If the final standard turns out to be less than 70 parts per billion, there would be little room for improvement, Ransel said, considering that 40 parts per billion — which amounts to slightly less than two-thirds of ozone standard — can be attributed to volatile organic compounds released by natural sources such as trees and plants in addition to emissions from wild-land fires.

Scientific research shows the compounds from plants and trees are harmless unless they react in the air with nitrogen oxides from man-made sources such as the burning of fuel by motor vehicles and power plants and from some industrial processes.

These compounds and nitrogen oxides in the presence of sunlight create ozone, a summertime pollutant that irritates the lungs and especially affects children, the elderly and people who suffer from asthma and heart and lung diseases.

Nationwide, hundreds of communities far from congested highways and belching smokestacks could join big cities and industrial corridors in violation of the stricter ozone limits.

Costs of compliance could be in the tens of billions of dollars, but the government said the rules would save other billions — as well as lives — in the long run.

The tighter standards, though costly to implement, will save billions of dollars in avoided emergency room visits, premature deaths, and missed work and school days, the EPA said.

“EPA is stepping up to protect Americans from one of the most persistent and widespread pollutants we face,” agency administrator Lisa Jackson said. “Using the best science to strengthen these standards is long overdue action that will help millions of Americans breathe easier and live healthier.”

Former President George W. Bush personally intervened in the issue after hearing complaints from electric utilities and other affected industries. His EPA standard of 75 parts per billion was stricter than one adopted in 1997 but not as strict as what scientists said was needed to protect public health.

Environmentalists endorsed the new plan. “If EPA follows through, it will mean significantly cleaner air and better health protection,” said Frank O’Donnell, president of the advocacy group Clean Air Watch.

EPA estimates meeting the new requirements will cost industry and motorists from $19 billion to as much as $90 billion a year by 2020. The Bush administration had put the cost of meeting its threshold at $7.6 billion to $8.5 billion a year.

With the primary ozone standard for human health, the EPA is proposing a secondary standard to protect the environment, particularly plants and trees that become prone to disease when repeated ozone exposure reduces growth and damages leaves.

Nevada has been able to meet compliance standards when the rules were looser, allowing 80 parts per billion for ozone. From 2004 to 2006 the Silver State was in compliance, with a single violation in 2007.

Michael Elges, chief of the Bureau of Air Pollution Control for the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, said he wouldn’t be able to guess as to what the compliance plan for the primary standard will require or what it will cost to implement.

“I just don’t know,” he said by phone from Carson City. “It’s going to be difficult not only for Clark County, but we’re going to have to take a hard look at other areas we’re monitoring in Nevada.

Even where ozone is monitored by the National Park Service in a pristine area of White Pine County, levels from natural, background sources are at or near the upper range of the proposed EPA standard, Elges said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. Contact reporter Keith Rogers at krogers@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0308.

Vegas Homeless Remembered
Las Vegas vigil remembers 179 homeless people who died over the past year in Clark County. (David Guzman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
A look inside Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory
Tesla's Gigafactory east of Reno produces the batteries that fuel the company's electric cars. Production has created more than 7,000 jobs, and the campus that includes one of the largest buildings in the world is expected to triple in size by the time it is completed. Tesla Vice President Chris Lister leads a tour of the facility. (Bill Dentzer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Garnet Interchange Ribbon Cutting
The Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the $63 million I-15-US 93 Garnet Interchange project. The project includes a modified diverging diamond interchange and a 5-mile widening of US 93.
State Foresters Hunt for Record Trees
Urban foresters from the Nevada Division of Forestry hunt for record setting trees.
Rick Davidson directs NFR satellite feed
Rick Davidson directs the Wrangler NFR's live satellite feed from a production trailer outside the Thomas & Mack Center. (Patrick Everson)
Scott Boras, Bryce Harper's agent, speaks to media at baseball's winter meetings
Baseball agent Scott Boras updates media on the contract negotiations of his client Bryce Harper during baseball's winter meetings at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Dec. 12, 2018. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Achievement School District
The achievement district faced strong opposition from traditional schools back in its beginnings in 2016. But with schools like Nevada Rise and Nevada Prep, it's slowly and steadily growing. Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal
Fresno State QB on record-breaking receiver
Fresno State quarterback Marcus McMaryion talks record-setting receiver KeeSean Johnson. Video by Mark Anderson/Las Vegas Review-Journal
The annual 'Shop with a Cop' event at Target
This year’s "Shop with a Cop" event gave about 40 children the chance to shop at Target alongside a North Las Vegas Police officers. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Bizutesfaye
Melvin Dummar dead at 74
Melvin Dummar has died at 74. Dummar was famous for claiming to have saved Howard Hughes in a Nevada desert in 1967. Dummar claimed to have been left $156 million in Hughes’ will. The will mysteriously appeared after Hughes’ death in 1976. It was dismissed as a fake two years later. Dummar never saw a dime of the billionaire's fortune. Dummar died Saturday in Nye County.
Officer-involved shooting in Nye County
The Nye County Sheriff's Office gives information about a shooting in Pahrump on Thursday night after a man began firing shots outside of his home. (Nye County Sheriff's Office)
Law Enforcement Active Shooter Training Exercise
Multiple Las Vegas Valley law enforcement agencies held an active shooter drill at the Department of Public Safety’s Parole and Probation office on December 6, 2018. Officials set up the training exercise to include multiple active shooters, a barricaded suspect and multiple casualties. (Katelyn Newberg/ Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Public memorial service for Jerry Herbst
Archiving effort hits milestone at Clark County Museum
The Clark County Museum catalogs the final item from the bulk of Route 91 Harvest festival artifacts. (John Przybys/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Pearl Harbor survivor Edward Hall talks about his memories of Dec. 7, 1941
U.S. Army Corps Edward Hall, a 95-year-old survivor of Pearl Harbor talks about his memories of that horrific day. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Final Route 91 Harvest festival remembrance objects catalogued at Clark County Museum
The last of the more than 17,000 items left at the makeshift memorial near the Las Vegas sign after the Oct. 1 shootings have been catalogued at the Clark County Museum in Las Vegas. The final item was a black-and-white bumper sticker bearing "#VEGASSTRONG. An additional 200 items currently on display at the museum will be catalogued when the exhibit comes down. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dozier execution timeline
Scott Dozier was set to be executed July 11, 2018, at the Ely State Prison. Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez delayed the execution.
Grand Jury Indicts Constable for theft
A Clark County grand jury indicted Henderson Constable Earl Mitchell. A Las Vegas Review-Journal investigation prompted the criminal probe. The newspaper found Mitchell wrote himself thousands in checks, took out cash at ATMs and traveled on county funds. He faces four felony counts of theft and a county of public misconduct. Mitchell and his attorney could not be reached for comment.
93-year-old WWII veteran arrested during visit to VA hospital
Dr. S. Jay Hazan, 93, a World War II veteran, talks about his arrest during his visit to VA hospital on Friday, Nov. 30. (Erik Verduzco Las Vegas Review-Journal @Erik_Verduzco_
Pearl Harbor survivor struggles in her senior years
Winifred Kamen, 77, survived the attack on Pearl Harbor as an infant, works a 100 percent commission telemarketing job to make ends meet. (K.M. Cannon Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas Metropolitan Briefing 18th street gang
Las Vegas Metropolitan briefs the media on the recent arrests made regarding the 18th street gang.
Man shot in Las Vegas traffic stop had knife, police say
Police said the man fatally shot by an officer during a traffic stop in downtown Las Vegas had a “homemade knife.” Demontry Floytra Boyd, 43, died Saturday at University Medical Center from multiple gunshot wounds after officer Paul Bruning, 48, shot him during a traffic stop. Bruning pulled Boyd over on suspicion of driving recklessly at 7:41 a.m. near Sunrise Avenue and 18th Street.
Catahoula dogs rescued from home in Moapa Valley
Catahoula dogs were brought to The Animal Foundation after being rescued from home in Moapa Valley.
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses in California wildfire
Intuitive Forager Kerry Clasby talks about losses she suffered in California's Woolsey Fire in Malibu in November. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Benefit dinner for Kerry Clasby, the Intuitive Forager
Sonia El-Nawal of Rooster Boy Cafe in Las Vegas talks about having a benefit for Kerry Clasby, known as the Intuitive Forager, who suffered losses on her farm in California’s Woolsey Fire in Malibu. (Al Mancini/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94
Former President George H.W. Bush has died at the age of 94. He died Friday night in Houston, about eight months after the death of his wife, Barbara.
Las Vegans Celebrate Big Snowfall
Las Vegans celebrate big snowfall at Lee Canyon.
Exploring old mines for denim jeans and other vintage items
Caden Gould of Genoa, Nev. talks about his experiences looking for vintage denim jeans and other items in old mines and other places areas across Nevada and the west.
Officers share photo of dead gunman after Las Vegas shooting
A little over an hour after SWAT officers entered Stephen Paddock's suite at Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas police officers far from the scene were already sharing cell phone photos of the dead Oct. 1 gunman.
News Headlines
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
You May Like

You May Like