In June 2001, the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued guidelines for a one-time only program opportunity called the Ozone Flex Program. The purpose of the ozone flex program was to support and reward innovative, voluntary, local strategies to reduce ground-level ozone. The Ozone Flex Program is a voluntary local approach to maintaining good air quality with controls tailored to local conditions for areas currently monitoring attainment for the 1-hour standard but may be close to violating the 8-hour standard. Communities pursuing the ozone flex program had to submit a letter of intent by December 2001 notifying the USEPA of their intent to develop and sign an interagency agreement with USEPA. In December 2001, a letter of intent was submitted to USEPA by the Quad City Transportation Policy Committee. This document represents the interagency agreement, proposed by Quad Cities area implement voluntary measures related to ozone level reductions.
The purpose of the Quad Cities Voluntary Ozone Flex Plan is:
-To determine voluntary strategies that have and will be taken by a variety of organizations to reduce precursor ozone emissions.
-To continue public education and awareness of the issues related to air pollution.
-To project or estimate the cumulative effect of reductions on the emissions that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone.
By participating in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Ozone Flex Program and to the extent that the voluntary measures are implemented, and reductions from the measures can be quantified, the Quad Cities may receive credit toward future planning efforts for the ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). By proactively addressing potentially harmful emissions that lead to increases in the area's ozone levels, the Quad Cities stakeholders hope to maintain the 1-hour ozone standard and avoid designation for nonattainment for the 8-hour standard through actions taken in this Plan. If this is unavoidable, then the Plan will be in place to enable the Area to work with regulators on necessary control measures using a flexible approach.
The plan was prepared under the direction of the Bi-State Region Air Quality Task Force beginning in January 2002 and approved by the Transportation Policy Committee on February 25, 2003. The Plan outlines activities to be conducted on a voluntary basis to reduce emissions that contribute to the formation of ground-level ozone. The Plan is effective for five years (2003-2008).
The Ozone Flex Plan describes specific air quality planning and discretionary control measures that Quad Cities’ stakeholders are committed to undertake on a voluntary basis. This Action Plan includes efforts to help the Quad Cities remain in good standing for attainment of the 1-hour and 8-hour ozone standards.
The Action Plan calls for strategies to promote voluntary air emissions reductions and further education, including:
-Create a speakers bureau through Bi-State Regional Commission for awareness and education.
[Complete. Contact Bi-State Regional Commission staff to arrange for a presentation.]
-Continue efforts to market voluntary measures through mailing, news releases, commission reports, meeting reports, website information, conference, workshops and advertising as opportunities and resources present themselves. [On-going.]
-Evaluate the effectiveness of establishing an ozone alert program if the frequency of unhealthy ozone episodes numbers more than five per year. [Monitoring ozone episodes through Iowa Department of Natural Resources. Average three unhealthy days per year.]
-Investigate designation in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities program to promote decrease dependence on foreign petroleum, the use of alternative fuels and working with the Illinois Green Fleet Program and Iowa Bus Emission Education Program (BEEP).
-Work to reduce congestion at the river crossings and increase capacity by pursuing short and long range strategies outline in the Mississippi River Crossing Strategy Implementation Plan.
[Refer to: Mississippi River Crossings Strategies]
-Monitor progress of voluntary efforts through outreach and through emission monitoring and inventories. [On-going.]
Contingency measures would be engaged when a second excursion of a 1-hour monitored value of 124 parts per billion (ppb) or greater occurred within an annual ozone season, either at the Scott County Park, Argo or Moline monitors. This trigger would immediately result in an issuance of a media release on ozone levels bordering unhealthy levels and offer voluntary tips on reducing emissions. [Refer to: Aware of Air “What You Can Do To Improve Air Quality Today and Tomorrow”]. The trigger would require convening the Bi-State Region Air Quality Task Force to consider the measures noted below and to identify a strategy for implementation within a twelve-month period. If no other occurrences were triggered in the twelve-month period, the Quad Cities could subsequently reconsider the contingency measures strategy and lessen the urgency of the strategies identified.
Should designation of the Quad Cities as a non-attainment area become imminent, the following contingency measures may be considered:
- Reconsider an ozone alert program, assuming a program has not yet been established or if established, consideration of a more intensive program may be necessary.
- Enhance employee education programs on travel demand management, commuter choice and other resource conservation options.
- Utilize low emission vehicle and equipment specifications for new fleets/small-spark engine equipment, any low emission engines and clean fuel fleets; and low volitale organic compounds (VOC) materials programs.
Fact Sheet outlines various organization and individual air emission reduction solutions on commuting, fleet emission reductions, employer incentives, conservation measures and regulatory options.