Department of Ecology News Release - August 27, 2014

Tacoma and Pierce County air quality hits the mark
Ecology asks for comments on air pollution plan

OLYMPIA – After years of hard work to reduce air pollution, a plan is being submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency that shows greater Tacoma and surrounding communities meet a federal air pollution standard.

Tacoma and Pierce County violated the federal air standard for fine particles from 2006-2008, which exposed the public to harmful air pollution, caused economic impacts to businesses and citizens, and resulted in EPA designating the area in a state of nonattainment. The fine particle pollution, at the heart of the violation, is primarily caused from residents burning wood to heat homes during winter.

“It’s vital to public health that we meet federal air quality standards,” said Stu Clark, Ecology Air Quality program manager. “Efforts from residents, businesses, and community leaders are paying off, but it’s critical to remain focused so we continue to achieve healthier air quality levels.”

Because of the violation, EPA requires Ecology and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency to submit a revision (a plan) to the State Implementation Plan. The plan shows the improvement in air quality in Tacoma and Pierce County, and outlines how to maintain and continue to decrease fine particle pollution in the area. The plan also illustrates how the area will continue to meet the federal standard for the next 10 years. If the plan is accepted, the area will be re-designated as meeting federal standards (in attainment status) and avoid further action by EPA.

How the greater Tacoma area is reducing fine particle air pollution

Puget Sound Clean Air Agency worked closely with Ecology and a community task force to reduce harmful wintertime particle pollution. These efforts continue to be implemented in the area.

Solutions to the air pollution issue include:

Community involvement

The public is invited to comment on the plan, which can be reviewed on Ecology’s website or in person at Ecology Headquarters, 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA. Citizens also can request a mailed copy of the plan by calling 360-407-6826.

Comments are being accepted by email to AQComments@ecy.wa.gov, or mail to Joanna Ekrem, Washington Department of Ecology, P.O. Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600. Comments will be accepted through Oct. 3, 2014.

Ecology is hosting a presentation and public hearing for the community. Testimony and written comments can be submitted at the public hearing on:

Date: Sep. 30, 2014
Location: Tacoma Public Library (Olympic room), 1102 Tacoma Ave. South, Tacoma, WA
Time: 6 p.m.
Hearing contact: Joanna Ekrem, 360-407-6826, joanna.ekrem@ecy.wa.gov

Visit Ecology’s website to learn more about fine particle pollution and nonattainment.

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Contact:

Camille St. Onge, communication manager, 360-584-6501, camille.st.onge@ecy.wa.gov, @ecologyWA