North Carolina received good news last week that the entire state meets the national air quality standard for fine particle pollution, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In an Aug. 19 letter, the EPA notified Gov. Pat McCrory that it intends to officially designate the entire state in December as attaining or meeting the new federal standard for fine particles, or PM 2.5, that it adopted in 2012.
The EPA lowered the annual standard from 15.0 micrograms to 12.0 micrograms per cubic meter in December 2012, but the state Division of Air Quality’s air monitoring has not shown any areas exceeding the new standard. North Carolina has taken a number of steps to reduce levels of ozone, fine particles and other air pollutants. The General Assembly enacted the Clean Smokestacks Act in 2002, which required power plants to reduce their nitrogen oxide, or NOx, and sulfur dioxide, or SO2, emissions by three-fourths during the following decade. Those emissions reductions have helped improve air quality across the state.
The North Carolina business community places a high priority on the environment. With recent reforms to streamline environmental regulations at the state level, accompanied by economic improvement, this news furthers the point that a sound economy that encourages growth and development is not mutually exclusive of sound environmental protections.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber