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State Advisory Board on Air Pollution

State Advisory Board on Air Pollution
29th Annual Meeting
October 17, 1995
Becky Norton Dunlop

I have good news about air quality in Virginia:

Even though this past summer was very hot and dry, we now have data that confirms that we have achieved the ozone standard in both Tidewater and Richmond. The DEQ staff is now developing maintenance plans which must be submitted to EPA with our official redesignation request. These plans, as you know, must show that the anticipated emission levels for both VOC’s and NOX ten to twelve years into the future, are no higher than the levels for the attainment year.

Virginia, along with the District of Columbia and Maryland, has just recently submitted a resignation request for carbon monoxide for the Northern Virginia Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Once these redesignations are approved, Virginia will be in attainment for air quality standards for everything but ozone and we will be in attainment for that everywhere except in Northern Virginia.

This clearly shows that Virginia’s air quality is continuing to improve. At the Department of Environmental Quality, Peter Schmidt and others are constantly evaluating ways to improve environmental management programs so we can continue to improve Virginia’s air quality while eliminating those requirements which could be barriers to continued growth in Virginia’s economy.

For example, we have taken great strides to improve the Permitting process in Virginia.

Permitting for both air and water has now been regionalized. This will result in more expeditious review and processing of permit applications. In addition, Peter Schmidt convened three panels to evaluate DEQ’s permitting programs and make recommendations to further improve the permit processes. Recommendations of these three panels will be implemented through internal, administrative changes as well as through regulatory and legislative changes that will require a bit more time. For the air program, most of the streamlining for minor source permits will come through regulatory changes that will allow the air division to issue general permits and an exclusionary rule that will eliminate the need for very minor sources to obtain permits.

In addition, we are ensuring that DEQ programs are available to assist businesses in understanding environmental requirements. Adoption of the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments has created the opportunity, as well as the need, for Virginia to set up a program to assist the small business community in understanding their rights and obligations under the Clean Air Act. This compliance assistance program provides a mechanism for small businesses to receive help in permitting, compliance, and pollution prevention. The DEQ has already provided compliance assistance to several individual small business owners and conducted formal outreach programs to dry cleaners, solvent metal cleaners, and chromium electroplaters. We expect this program to be particularly helpful to small businesses as EPA promulgates new Maximum Achievable Control Technology (MACT) for various toxic pollutants.

In order to make sure that the regulatory requirements we enforce are essential and effective, Governor Allen has initiated a regulatory review and reform effort that we anticipate will generate huge improvements in the way Virginia manages its environment.

DEQ has completed their review of the first half of their regulations and, based in part upon comments received from several of you, have made recommendations on how to improve those regulations. These suggestions are now under review by my office and will be forwarded to Governor Allen by the end of this year.

The agency has begun the task of reviewing the second half of these regulations and will be making recommendations on these regulations by early next summer. In fact, the State Air Pollution Control Board, the State Water Control Board, and the Virginia Waste Management Board will be holding a joint Board meeting tonight, in Norfolk, to receive comments from the public on how these regulations should be improved.

I am confident that this initiative will result in clearer and more concise requirements without unnecessary bureaucratic red tape. Our goal is to have regulations that are necessary to protect the environment and that both achieve and maintain health based standards, but also ones that are clear enough for all to understand.

As you all know, Governor Allen and I have been actively working for changes in the regulatory structure at the federal level -at both the Congressional and the administrative levels. We strongly believe that fundamental changes are needed in the way the federal government operates before Virginia will be free to implement the programs and policies that make sense for Virginia.

For example, Title V of the Clean Air Act is one of the most burdensome and inefficient regulations that Congress and EPA have ever imposed on the American people -one which does little to improve air quality. The truth of the matter is that when Congress passes a cost benefit analysis requirement for regulations, Title V regulations would probably get the lowest score of any regulation I can think of.

Virginia is pursuing every avenue to ensure that the requirements placed upon our businesses make sense and that they are based on scientifically demonstrated needs and benefits. While I don't want to get into the details here, Virginia's lawsuit against EPA, where we claim that EPA has exceeded its authority in mandating certain Clean Air Act program elements, is scheduled for oral argument the first week in December -it is doubtful that we'll have a decision before the first part of summer.

I am confident that the citizens of Virginia will benefit from our efforts to bring some sense to environmental regulations. I especially appreciate the efforts of the State Advisory Board and other citizen groups to evaluate and make recommendations on how they would like to see these programs improved. I hope you all enjoy the remainder of this meeting. Thank you.