Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Huff, A Puff, A Blow Down the Door

The US EPA has notified the Governor that it intends to adopt boundaries that encompass most of the Tacoma-Pierce County metro area. The target date: December 18.

We've not seen much initiative to take advantage of the runup to the issue of what will be the Wapato Hills Puyallup River Valley Nonattainment area for PM-2.5. The primary exception has been DOE/PSCAA's funds for replacement of woodsmoke sources, as woodsmoke is the acknowledged violating pollutant. Even that meager source is shared with other areas, like Marysville, that are close but not yet in nonattainment.

The Chamber has recommended both to the City of Tacoma and Pierce County that they begin now an advocacy effort to redefine the transportation prioritization dollars to include mitigation for air quality nonattainment. PSCAA, DOE and EPA all seemed determined to include the port-industrial area in the boundaries even though that area's monitors continue to evidence air quality within defined federal standards.

The federal processes allow communities two years to plan to achieve attainment and one or more years to achieve it. Yet, so far, our region is ignoring the impending regulatory burden, mayhap because it hasn't actually happened yet.

As EPA will join the Federal Transportation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration in overseeing any federal grants, it is more than timely to begin the planning processes so as to most urgently return healthy air to our metro and avoid the unintended consequences to our economy by a bureaucracy most interested in regulating rather than actual air quality.

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