ATLANTA - Federal environmental regulators Monday announced they're taking final action to re-designate the 20-county Atlanta area to attainment for ozone.
The Georgia Environmental Protection Division had requested the move for the region which includes Barrow, Forsyth, Gwinnett and Hall counties in our area.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials said they're basing the action on air quality monitoring from 2008, 2009 and 2010. They said the data shows the air met the standard.
Georgia EPD Director Judson Turner attributed the attainment to things such as people keeping their vehicles running well to improved emission controls in industry and power plants.
"It has taken many years, but the results are cleaner air and a healthier place to live and work," Turner added.
The attainment relates to the 1997 8-hour ozone standard, according to EPA.
Other counties impacted include Bartow, Carroll, Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Henry, Newton, Paulding, Rockdale, Spalding and Walton.
"This is a great accomplishment for the Atlanta area, a product of strong collaboration among government, the business community, environmental organizations and ordinary citizens." Acting EPA Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg said.
Carol Kemker, Deputy Director of the Air Division for the EPA, said the regional had been under non-attainment since 2004. She called Monday's announcement good news.
"Not only is the air cleaner, but Georgia has put a plan in place to keep the air at least that clean for at least ten years to come," Kemker said.
When asked about relaxing any regulations on the region, Kemker said, "typically what got you cleaner air, continues to get you cleaner air."
"What Georgia will have the opportunity to do, if there are key things that they can show that they no longer need in order for the air to stay clean, then they'll have the option to make that sort of demonstration," Kemker said.