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FirstEnergy announced plans to shut down its coal-fired Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County and Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland this September, nearly a year ahead of schedule. In Lorain County, NRG Energy revealed plans last year to convert its Avon Lake Generating Station from coal to natural gas.

The U.S. EPA's national Toxics Release Inventory reported that disposal or other releases of toxic chemicals decreased by 12% from 2011 to 2012. In Ohio, releases fell by 21%, from 149 million pounds in 2011 to 117 million pounds in 2012. ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel remained the largest emitters in Cuyahoga County.

In its recommendation to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA identified Cuyahoga County as a nonattainment area under 2012 federal fine particle pollution standards. Other Greater Cleveland counties that formerly were in nonattainment status now meet the standards. When the designation becomes effective, Ohio will have three years to implement strategies to bring the area into compliance. The final federal decision is expected by August 14. Last year, NOACA published an overview of Northeast Ohio air quality trends (PDF).

In the annual State of the Air report from the American Lung Association, Cuyahoga County again received an F for its ozone levels, and its grade for 24-hour particulate levels improved to a C. The report ranked the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area as having the nation's 20th-highest levels of year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year's 14th-place ranking. The area experienced a spike in the number of poor air quality days in 2012, but both the region and the country generally have seen increases in air quality.

Data from the U.S. EPA's 2011 Toxics Release Inventory shows that 4.09 billion pounds of toxic chemicals were released into the environment, an 8% increase over 2010 levels. Toxic releases into the waters of the Great Lakes Basin grew by 12%. In Ohio, releases declined from 154 million pounds to 150 million pounds, a 2.6% decrease. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the Charter Steel and ArcelorMittal facilities.

Update: The Columbus Dispatch reported on the figures.

Greater Cleveland's 2012 ozone season concluded at the end of October. The eight-county area experienced 28 days with elevated ozone levels, twice as many as last year. Officials attributed the increase to high summer temperatures.

An analysis of U.S. EPA data by the Natural Resources Defense Council ranked states by the amount of toxic emissions generated by their electric sectors. Ohio had the second-highest levels, trailing only Kentucky. All of the states bordering Ohio appeared in the list's top 10. The NRDC expects toxic emissions to decline dramatically because of new federal standards.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA designated an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area under 2008 federal ozone standards. The area must meet the new limits within three years. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare (PDF) that six Greater Cleveland counties meet 2006 federal fine particulate standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on May 21.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about the proposed fine particulate redesignation.

The company that manages the electrical grid from Ohio to the East Coast determined that FirstEnergy's plans to shut down three area coal-fired power plants in September would create reliability problems and that the plants will remain open until April 2015. FirstEnergy's revised plans include the installation of combustion turbines at its Eastlake plant.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report again gave Cuyahoga County an F for its ozone levels, while the county's grade for particulate pollution improved to a D. Air quality in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area continued to improve, but was ranked as having the nation's 14th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Nationwide, cities reported the lowest levels of air pollution in the 13-year history of the report.

FirstEnergy announced that it is reconsidering its plans to close its Eastlake power plant. The company is studying the possibility of replacing the plant's coal-fired turbines with combustion turbines that would be fueled by natural gas or oil. It would continue to operate as a peaking plant, providing up to 800 megawatts.

The U.S. EPA is expected to designate an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area for new federal ozone standards. The area would have three years to comply with the revised limits. The E-Check program would continue.

In response to comments from the U.S. EPA, the City of Cleveland announced changes to its plans for a waste-to-energy facility at its planned Recycling & Energy Generation Center. The changes are intended to reduce its levels of toxic air emissions. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey collected related press releases and statements, and participants on the latest Civic Commons radio show revisited the topic.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Cleveland is wise to scale back its trash-to-gas plan."

In addition to objections from residents and environmentalists, some members of Cleveland City Council oppose the proposed Cleveland Recycling & Energy Generation Center and its waste-to-energy facility. Councilman Brian Cummins concluded that "the city needs to go back to the drawing board." Dan Moulthrop considered the issues in the context of sustainability.

FirstEnergy announced that it will close six older coal-fired power plants this year, including the Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and the Eastlake Plant in Lake County. The company attributed the decision to new federal mercury pollution standards. Most of the plants that will be closed have been operated as peaking plants.

A Plain Dealer editorial said the closures represented "a punch in the gut for communities already battling sour unemployment numbers," while an editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "no single policy is responsible for the closures." an Akron Beacon Journal editorial provided some perspective. The Natural Resources Defense Council called it "good news for human health and a clean energy economy."

Update: The Atlantic Cities considered how the decision may affect the City of Eastlake.

The Ohio EPA recently held a public hearing about the City of Cleveland's proposed waste-to-energy facility for the Ridge Road Transfer Station. The City is promoting the plans as a way to generate electricity, create jobs, and reduce the City's carbon footprint, but many residents and environmentalists oppose its construction. To allow for more dialogue, the Ohio EPA extended its public comment period and the City will hold a community meeting on January 19. Councilman Brian Cummins posted a list of resources, while Marc Lefkowitz suggested some alternative ideas.

Update: about 100 people attended the community meeting, and the City of Cleveland scheduled three additional meetings. The Ohio EPA will accept public comments (PDF) through February 23.

The U.S. EPA introduced its Greenhouse Gas Inventory. It provides public access to 2010 greenhouse gas emissions data from large facilities for the entire United States. Ohio's largest group of emitters were power plants, and the largest single emitter in Cuyahoga County was the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland. Meanwhile, ArcelorMittal announced that it would reopen the west side of the plant.

The U.S. EPA issued its annual analysis of data from the national Toxics Release Inventory. After several years of decreases, U.S. toxic chemical releases increased by 16% from 2009 to 2010. Releases in Ohio shrank by 1.8%. Cuyahoga County's largest emitters were the ArcelorMittal and Charter Steel facilities.

Last week, the U.S. EPA issued the first national standards for mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants. Under the new rules, which will become effective in 2014 and 2015, operators will have to install pollution controls or shut down older coal-fired power plants. The regulations could impact several local power plants, including FirstEnergy's Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland and Eastlake Power Plant in Lake County, and Genon's Avon Lake Generating Station in Lorain County.

An Ohio Citizen Action report urges FirstEnergy to permanently close its Lake Shore Power Plant in Cleveland. The plant is currently idle.

From April through October, Greater Cleveland experienced 14 days with elevated ozone levels, close to the annual average of 15.5 days. NOACA staff noted (PDF) that "in general, ozone concentrations have decreased in the long term".

A new report from Environment Ohio ranked Ohio as having the second-highest level of airborne mercury pollution released by power plants, trailing only Texas. Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, it said that power plants in Ohio emitted 4,218 pounds of mercury pollution in 2010.

The lakefront Avon Lake Generating Station was one of the facilities on a recently-revealed U.S. EPA internal watch list. It said that operators failed to install modern pollution controls at the 41-year-old coal-fired power plant. Dennis Kucinich urged the Ohio EPA to require emissions reductions.

Update: the U.S. EPA filed an enforcement action against GenOn.

A new report from Environment America looked at smog figures in American cities. It ranked the five-county Greater Cleveland area as being tied as the 20th-smoggiest metropolitan area in 2010.

The Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA (PDF) to declare that the seven-county Greater Cleveland area is in compliance with 1997 federal fine particle pollution standards. The state's draft redesignation request and maintenance plan (PDF) is available online, and it will hold a public hearing on September 23 in Twinsburg.

Using data from the federal Toxics Release Inventory, the Natural Resources Defense Council calculated the amount of toxic air pollution generated by power plants. The electric sector in Ohio emitted 44.5 million pounds of pollutants in 2009, more than any other state.

A report from NAACP includes environmental justice scores for the 431 coal-fired power plants in the U.S. and named the Lake Shore Power Plant in Glenville as the nation's sixth-most harmful plant for low-income communities and communities of color. Leaders of the local NAACP branch say that the plant should remain open.

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified Ohio as one of ten states likely to see significant increases in respiratory problems from rising ozone levels associated with global warming. Meanwhile, Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy expanded upon his earlier premise that ranked Cleveland as the city least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rust Wire's Kate Giammarise interviewed Al Douglas of the Ontario Centre for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Resources about its effects on the Great Lakes.

The Plain Dealer published more information about the City of Cleveland's plans for a waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station and environmentalists' concerns about the concept.

Update: participants on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the proposal.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "the concept is intriguing."

The American Lung Association's 12th annual State of the Air report says that Cuyahoga County's air quality continues to improve, but it again gave the County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked as having the nation's 12th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Previous reports: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.

Local environmental groups have questions about the City of Cleveland's proposed waste-to-energy facility at the Ridge Road Transfer Station. They are concerned about its air quality implications and its potential to discourage waste reduction practices. The groups will host a community discussion (PDF) on May 10 at the Cleveland Environmental Center, where Neil Seldman of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance will make a presentation.

Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy ranked 50 major U.S. cities (PDF) by their vulnerability to climate change. He found that Cleveland was least likely to experience negative repercussions, while Miami was the most vulnerable.

The Ohio EPA issued its first statewide air toxics monitoring study (PDF). The report utilized data (PDF) from 34 monitoring sites in 16 counties, including several sites in Cuyahoga County. It identified elevated cancer risks in seven counties, but not in Cuyahoga County.

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of data from the Toxics Release Inventory. Nationwide, releases of toxic chemicals fell by 12% to 3.37 billion pounds from 2008 to 2009. Releases in Ohio fell from 224 million pounds in 2008 to 159 million pounds in 2009, a decrease of over 29%. Cuyahoga County's top polluter in 2009 was the Charter Steel mill in Cuyahoga Heights. The ArcelorMittal steel plant in Cleveland was idled for much of the year.

Update: businesses in Ohio continued to emit more toxic air pollutants than those of any other state. Officials attribute the decreases to pollution control equipment, the recession, and new processes.

Ohio EPA officials say that it will take several years to determine nitrogen dioxide levels and whether the state meets new federal standards. The U.S. EPA strengthened its standards in January.

The U.S. EPA announced plans to delay implementation of proposed new ozone standards. The new rules were to be finalized by December 31, but the agency now intends to wait until July 2011. The decision may be related to shifts in Congressional power.

The new Cleveland Hazecam provides a live image of Cleveland's skyline every 15 minutes. It's intended to increase public awareness of local air quality issues and their health impacts.

Northeast Ohio experienced 15 days with elevated ozone levels in 2010, an increase over recent years. Average ozone levels over the three-year period were an improvement over the previous three-year period for most Northeast Ohio counties, but not enough to meet anticipated new federal standards.

A new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force quantified the health problems (PDF) caused by fine particle pollution from the nation's coal-burning power plants. It ranked Ohio as having the second-highest number of adverse health impacts, trailing only Pennsylvania. For metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA ranked eighth-highest. Power companies and the coal industry dispute the group's findings.

Update: the Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles spoke with Nolan Moser of the Ohio Environmental Council about the study.

This summer's hot weather has led to more days with poor air quality. There have been 11 ozone action days in Northeast Ohio so far this year, compared to three in 2009. There have also been three days with elevated particulate levels.

Citing reduced demand and proposed federal regulations, FirstEnergy announced plans to reduce operations at four of its smaller coal-fired power plants in Ohio. The changes include plans (PDF) to temporarily idle the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland and to operate the Eastlake Plant only during the summer and winter.

The nonprofit utility that provides power to institutions in University Circle is seeking a permit renewal for its coal-fired power plant. Members of the Sierra Club and other environmental groups oppose the permit, and stated their opinions at a public meeting (PDF) yesterday. The company intends to complete a plan by the end of 2011 for how it will become a coal-free operation. The Ohio EPA posted the draft permit (PDF).

Update: a final decision could take several months.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that the air quality in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities has improved, but that pollution levels remain dangerously high. Greater Cleveland was ranked as having the country's 19th-worst year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year. Cuyahoga County again received failing grades for its its levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

In its written comments (PDF) to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA objected to a federal proposal to tighten ozone standards, saying that the agency prefers the standards set by the Bush administration in 2008. Business groups were pleased and environmental organizations were disappointed.

Update: the Plain Dealer has additional details, and an editorial says that lowering ozone levels is an unrealistic goal.

The NOACA Governing Board approved a resolution that urges the U.S. EPA to set achievable ozone standards. In January, the federal agency announced its intention to tighten the ozone limit. It is expected to finalize its decision in August.

The Ohio EPA will appeal the recent court decision which found that the state's pollution rules for small businesses violated the federal Clean Air Act.

A U.S. District Court judge ruled that an Ohio pollution exemption for small businesses was in violation of the federal Clean Air Act. A 2006 state law allowed establishments that emitted fewer than 10 tons of air pollutants per year to use less than the best-available emission-reduction technology, but the state never received U.S. EPA approval to change the standards.

Update: Joe Koncelik shared his reactions.

The U.S. EPA proposed tougher new standards for ground-level ozone that would replace standards set by the Bush administration in March 2008. The proposal calls for new standards between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion standard adopted in 2008. Northeast Ohio, which last year attained compliance with the 1997 standard (80 ppb), would not meet the new standard. Much of the rest of the state would also be in noncompliance, and the major metropolitan areas may have difficulty reaching the lower levels.

The U.S. EPA released its annual analysis of Toxics Release Inventory data. In 2008, pollution releases at the national level fell by 6% from 2007 levels. Ohio reduced its releases of toxic air pollutants by 22%, but remained the nation's top emitter of toxic airborne compounds. Toxic releases in Cuyahoga County fell from 12.2 million tons in 2007 to 9.9 million tons in 2008. The ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland was the County's top polluter.

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that African Americans are more likely to live in proximity to a polluting industrial facility than white Americans. The disparity was especially acute in Midwestern cities.

As the U.S. Conference of Mayors marked the 1,000th local leader to sign its Climate Protection Agreement, it published profiles of 16 mayors who are pursuing innovative strategies (PDF) to reduce pollution. Frank Jackson was one of those profiled.

(via Streetsblog Capitol Hill)

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that six Greater Cleveland counties fail to meet 2006 federal standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), making official the designation made in December 2008. Ohio must develop a plan for bringing Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties into attainment status.

Update: Brad Chase at GreenCityBlueLake looked at what Northeast Ohio has done and what it still could do to lower particulate pollution levels. The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the announcement.

The cool weather and poor economy led to cleaner air in Northeast Ohio this summer. There were only three Ozone Action Days and four days when particulate matter levels were unhealthy.

Joe Koncelik believes that Northeast Ohio needs to prepare for the likelihood of tighter federal ozone standards.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA declared that eight Greater Cleveland counties now meet federal ozone standards. The region likely will not comply with new federal standards scheduled to take effect next spring. The announcement does not affect the E-Check program.

Update: the EPA also announced that it will reconsider the new standards "to ensure they are scientifically sound and protective of human health." They could be made more stringent.

The U.S. EPA and a group of local partners are conducting the Cleveland Multiple Air Pollutant Study, a two-part air quality study of Cleveland and the surrounding area. The program is a national model intended to help identify the sources (PDF) of a variety of specific pollutants.

Whether the E-Check program continues in Northeast Ohio may depend on how the U.S. EPA designates the region under its new ozone standards. It could be named as a moderate nonattainment area or a marginal nonattainment area. The Ohio EPA currently intends to extend E-Check until at least June 2011.

Update: Envirotest will continue to operate the program through the end of June 2011.

Last week, National Wildlife Federation President Larry Schweiger spoke at the Akron Roundtable about the consequences of global warming, and noted that its impacts are being felt around the world and in Ohio. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the challenge now involves the country and the international community acting quickly enough to avoid far more drastic consequences." Today, the National Wildlife Federation released a report titled More Extreme Heat Waves: Global Warming's Wake Up Call. It details the predicted human health impacts of global warming-induced heat waves.

Meanwhile, some climate scientists attribute shifts in Ohio rainfall patterns to climate change. Northeast Ohio has experienced an increase in the number of days per year with heavy storms. A report released by the the Union of Concerned Scientists last month presented scenarios about the future impacts of climate change in the Midwest.

The cool and wet weather this summer has contributed to an improvement in Northeast Ohio's air quality. Ozone and particulate pollution levels have been lower this summer.

The U.S. EPA is developing national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) . Area officials expect that Ohio cities will be able to comply with the new limits.

The U.S. EPA plans to redesignate the eight Greater Cleveland counties as being in compliance with federal ozone standards. While the region's air quality is improving, it is not expected to meet tougher ozone standards adopted last year.

Update: additional details are available from several local news sources.

The American Lung Association's 2009 State of the Air report gave Cuyahoga County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The 10th annual report listed Greater Cleveland as having the nation's 10th worst year-round particle pollution, but unlike last year, did not include the metropolitan area in the list of cities with the worst short-term particle pollution.

Update: the report (PDF) noted that Greater Cleveland's air quality has significantly improved over the past five years.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory statistics reveal that Ohio businesses emitted 3.89% fewer toxins in 2007 than in 2006. Factories and power plants in Ohio continued to emit more air pollution than any other state. Nationwide, toxic releases declined by 5% in 2007. A provision in the recent appropriations bill reinstated stronger reporting requirements, reversing a 2006 Bush administration rule.

GreenCityBlueLake's Marc Lefkowitz notes that the recently-released draft of the AMATS regional transportation plan makes no mention of climate change. He then names some areas where the plan could address the issue.

The Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare the eight-county Greater Cleveland region in compliance (PDF) with 1997 federal ozone standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on March 3 in Twinsburg. However, the U.S. EPA is also preparing to declare that the area does not meet stricter ozone rules adopted last year.

A draft recommendation by the Ohio EPA identifies 31 counties as nonattainment areas under federal ozone standards adopted last year. The list includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing about the recommendation in Columbus on February 12. The Greater Cleveland counties also fail to meet older, less stringent standards.

The Cleveland Carbon Fund was unveiled on Wednesday. Organizers are billing it as "the first community-based, open-access carbon reduction fund in the United States." It provides an way for Northeast Ohio residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in local carbon reduction projects.

Ohio officials do not intend to join California and 13 other states in their effort to set strict new automobile emissions standards.

While the E-Check program remains unpopular among Greater Clevelanders, U.S. EPA officials say that an automobile emissions inspection program for the region is required under the Clean Air Act. Strickland administration representatives would not say if they plan to continue E-Check, which is set to expire in June.

Update: a News-Herald editorial says that Ohio leaders must fix the program.

As expected, the U.S. EPA announced yesterday that Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties failed to meet new standards for fine particle pollution. The Ohio EPA has three years to draft a compliance plan, and the counties must comply with the standards by April 2014. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court reversed itself (PDF) yesterday and temporarily reinstated the Clean Air Interstate Rule that it struck down in July. The EPA is still required to revise the rule but has no deadline for doing so.

"What's at Stake," a new report from Environment Ohio, enumerates the environmental, economic, and human health threats posed by global warming. It says that "if unchecked, global warming will affect every part of Ohio in the coming century" and urges action to curb emissions of global warming pollutants.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that Ohio leaders should be "pushing and preparing aggressively for action, emphasizing the cost if steps are not taken."

FirstEnergy is seeking a variance that would allow its Lakeshore Power Plant to continue wastewater discharges into Lake Erie with mercury levels in excess of permitted amounts. Company officials say that installing equipment to meet the standards could cost $10 million or more.

Ozone levels in an eight-county Northeast Ohio area were lower than anticipated this summer. Officials attribute the cleaner air to a reduction in automobile traffic caused by higher gas prices.

The Ohio EPA is preparing to submit a plan for bringing into compliance the 27 counties that do not meet federal particulate pollution standards. Cuyahoga County is the only one expected to have problems meeting the standards by the April 5, 2010 deadline. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on September 17 at the Twinsburg Public Library. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is in the process of designating nonattainment areas under new, more stringent particulate rules.

The U.S. EPA released a list of counties it plans to designate as nonattainment areas under new fine particle air pollution regulations. It includes Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. Most Greater Cleveland counties failed to comply with older, less strict standards, so the announcement was not a surprise. The EPA plans to make final designation decisions by December 18.

Ford agreed to pay a $1.4 million fine for failing to upgrade pollution control equipment at its Cleveland Casting Plant in Brook Park. When the company announced plans to close the plant last year, it stopped work on new furnaces and supporting emissions controls needed to comply with air pollution regulations.

Yesterday, Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety about the implications of the court decision that struck down the U.S. EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule. He encouraged Congress to pass a bill that would reinstate the rule.

Ohio EPA officials worry that the agency's plans to reduce smog and soot may now be insufficient, because a federal appeals court recently struck down a U.S. EPA rule intended to reduce soot and smog through a cap-and-trade program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial urges federal leaders to create a replacement for the rejected rule.

A new report (PDF) from the University of Maryland's Center for Integrative Environmental Research predicts that global warming could cost Ohio billions of dollars in the shipping, tourism, and recreation industries if current trends continue unabated.

Update: WCPN presents more details.

The E-Check program was extended through the end of June 2009 for seven Greater Cleveland counties. Ohio will pay for the program through general revenue funds, and not the tobacco settlement money that was previously used.

The General Environmental Management plant in the Flats will close rather than make fire safety improvements to the facility. The plant had been cited for potential violations of clean air laws and suffered an explosion and fire in 2006.

Local employees have adopted a variety of policies to help employees deal with rising commuting costs, and RTA reports that Park-N-Ride ridership increased by 4% between April 2007 and April 2008. At the same time, nonprofits, governments, and businesses are encouraging Ohioans to reduce idling in order to save gasoline and reduce pollution.

The Brookings Institution detailed the carbon footprints of the 100 largest American metropolitan areas by analyzing emissions from transportation and residential sources in 2005. Urban residents generally had smaller carbon footprints than rural residents, but several Ohio metropolitan areas were among those with the largest footprints due in part to their reliance on coal. Cincinnati and Toledo were in the top five. The Cleveland metropolitan area had the 31st-smallest footprint of the 100 cities examined, ranking 12th-lowest in emissions from transportation and 74th-lowest in emissions from residential energy use.

31 of Ohio's top 100 polluters are among the companies participating in the Ohio EPA's voluntary Tox-Minus program. In Northeast Ohio, 15 plants are participating (PDF), although Lincoln Electric is the sole Cuyahoga County participant. The program is an effort to reduce pollution identified in the national Toxics Release Inventory.

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report, and again gave Cuyahoga County an F in particulate pollution. The County received a C in ozone pollution, up from a D in 2007 and an F in 2006. Los Angeles was again ranked as having the nation's worst air, but for the first time, Pittsburgh was ranked first in short-term particulate pollution. Cleveland was number 15 in short-term particulate pollution and number 11 in year-round particulate pollution.

The Vulcan Project at Purdue University reports that for states, Ohio had the third-highest levels of carbon dioxide emissions. For counties, Cuyahoga County had the fourth-highest amount. The state and county fared much better when per capita emissions were calculated.

NOACA staff predicts that twice as many Air Quality Advisories may be issued this year due to stricter federal standards.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that air quality concerns in the neighborhoods surrounding the ArcelorMittal steel mill are "too big of a public health issue to ignore," and that the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA, and the City of Cleveland have a duty to investigate.

The U.S. EPA weakened its new ozone standards after a last-minute intervention by President Bush. The agency also predicted that Geauga County will be one of only 28 counties in the nation that will fail to meet the new rules by 2020. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says the limits will cause economic hardship in Ohio.

Update: local Republican politicians ridiculed the EPA report about Geauga County.

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that federal ozone limits will be tightened from the 1997 standard of 84 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion. The EPA's advisory council had recommended a standard as low as 60 parts per billion. The eight county Greater Cleveland area does not comply with the 1997 standard, and likely will require additional measures to meet the new rules.

Update: Friday's Plain Dealer has more details.

The U.S. EPA has been investigating air pollution from the ArcelorMittal steel mill in Cleveland. Local activists want the company to reduce its emissions.

The U.S. EPA is scheduled to release new ground-level ozone standards by Wednesday.

The U.S. EPA's annual publication of Toxics Release Inventory data showed that pollution in Ohio increased by 5% in 2006. Releases of toxic substances rose from 277.1 million pounds in 2005 to 291.3 million pounds in 2006. Ohio again led all states in toxic air pollution.

(via Economic News From Ohio's Regions)

The Ohio EPA proposed a new set of rules to regulate outdoor wood-fired furnaces. Their increasing popularity has led to concerns about air pollution and offensive odors. The agency is accepting public comments on the draft rules through March 7.

Many cities are encountering obstacles in meeting their carbon dioxide reduction goals, despite enthusiasm among citizens and city officials in places such as Cleveland. Even the best-laid plans to reduce emissions have been constrained by budgets, conflicting political ideologies, legal restrictions by states, and people's unwillingness to change.

RTA officials say that improvements in Greater Cleveland's air quality correspond with the the agency's usage of cleaner buses.

Update: the Earth Day Coalition's Clean Fuels weblog explores the subject.

The Ohio EPA intends to designate Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties as nonattainment areas under the US EPA's new fine particulate standard. The designation may require new pollution controls to be enacted in order to lower soot levels. The Ohio EPA will accept public comments through January 25, and will hold a public hearing in Columbus on January 22.

The US EPA found General Environmental Management's Cleveland plant in violation of the Clean Air Act, and that it annually emits of 17 tons of hydrogen chloride (PDF), among other violations. The company is also being sued by the City of Cleveland for operating without a permit.

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed an executive order that extends the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through June 30.

Tuesday's Plain Dealer pointed out air quality concerns about the I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon that was approved in October. Greater Cleveland must reduce air pollution to meet federal standards, and some are concerned that continued urban sprawl will create more problems.

On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board approved a strategy (PDF) to help Greater Cleveland comply with federal fine particle pollution standards. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Ohio EPA, which must submit a soot compliance plan by April 2008. If the area does not meet the standards by April 2010, it could lose federal transportation funds and face restrictions on business expansions.

Medina County's NOACA representative does not support the agency's proposed fine particle pollution control recommendations.

The Ohio Senate approved extending the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through a rider attached to an unrelated bill. Governor Strickland vetoed changes to E-Check in a June budget bill, and the program was set to expire at the end of the year. The bill will go back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls E-Check "a fraud".

The Center for Global Development compiled government and industry statistics at CARMA, and determined that Ohio is the fifth-worst state for carbon emissions from power plants. Plants in Ohio released 133 million tons of CO2 in 2000. This afternoon, five Midwest governors the premier of Manitoba signed an accord to limit carbon emissions, reduce energy consumption, and encourage renewable energy. Governor Strickland also signed on as an observer.

(Update: The Plain Dealer presents more details about the pact.)

In an effort to reduce ozone levels, the Ohio EPA may mandate the use of a cleaner, but more expensive gasoline in the eight county Greater Cleveland area. High ozone numbers in 2007 are prompting the agency to consider the additional controls.

A NOACA air quality subcommittee issued its recommendations (PDF) for bringing the area into attainment with federal fine particle pollution standards, and AMATS is finalizing a similar set of recommendations. The recommendations include establishing a voluntary program for retrofitting diesel engines.

(Update: AMATS issued its recommendations.)

Growing Cooler, a new report published by the Urban Land Institute, concludes that "urban development is both a key contributor to climate change and an essential factor in combating it."

A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council looked at ten cities in eastern and southern half of the U.S. and says that global warming will increase their number of days with high ozone levels. Cleveland "would see 11 more days per summer that exceed the EPA's standard."

Environmental advocates assert that the state needs to install more monitors for urban neighborhoods near industrial areas that experience high levels of air pollution.

Several Greater Cleveland counties continue to report ozone levels that exceed federal standards. An average of readings from 2007 through 2009 will be used to determine compliance with federal ozone limits.

Scene profiles the efforts of Ohio Citizen Action to get Mittal Steel to reduce air pollution from its Cleveland mill.

Only three people testified at the public hearing held yesterday by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on the strategies for bringing Greater Cleveland into compliance with ozone standards.

The Ohio EPA's interim proposal for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland includes a set of control strategies that calls for lowering emissions from industry and power plants. The agency will accept public comment at a meeting tomorrow afternoon at its Twinsburg office.

(Update: WKSU has additional details.)

Senator Voinovich says that as many as 48 Ohio counties would not be in compliance with the proposed new federal ozone standards. 25 Ohio counties, including those in Greater Cleveland, are not in compliance with the existing standards.

The Ohio EPA's interim plan for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland is likely to see changes over the next six months.

Yesterday, the US EPA proposed tightening ground-level ozone standards. Current standards permit up to 84 parts per billion of ozone, and the new proposal would lower that to 70 to 75 parts per billion. The local implications of the proposed change are not yet known. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA recently submitted an interim plan to the US EPA for bringing Greater Cleveland into attainment with the current standards, and will hold a public hearing at their Northeast District Office on July 24.

(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about potential local impacts of the proposal.)

The two members of the Ohio Senate who opposed the continuation of the E-Check program inserted an amendment into the state budget bill that "forces the governor to issue an executive order if he feels E-Check is necessary, but requires him to consider less-intrusive and less-costly alternatives to complying with the Federal Clean Air Act."

A NOACA air quality task force approved a set of recommendations to help the region comply with federal particulate emissions standards. The recommendations include strategies for addressing pollution from mobile (PDF) and stationary (PDF) sources. NOACA's Governing Board may vote on the recommendations this fall, which would then be submitted to the Ohio EPA for inclusion in a statewide plan.

The Chatter column in this week's Free Times covers increased emissions from the Mittal Steel mill in Cleveland and the discussion about the proposed demolition of the Cleveland Trust Tower before the Cleveland City Planning Commission.The Planning Commission will take up the question again on Friday, and Plain Dealer architecture critic Steven Litt feels it's likely that the City will approve the demolition.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls Ohio E-Check program the best available alternative for addressing air quality problems and that "killing the program would harm the air quality of Northeast Ohio, diminishing the quality of life of all residents."

Ohio State Senators Kevin Coughlin and Tim Grendell say they will not support an Ohio budget that includes the continuation of the state's E-Check program. A spokesman for Governor Strickland says that he is unaware of alternatives that would satisfy federal EPA requirements, but added, "If there are other solutions, the governor is willing to work with the senators."

President Bush directed the US EPA and three other federal agencies to develop regulations for greenhouse gases from vehicle emissions by the end of 2008. Critics accuse Bush of stalling to avoid compliance with the April Supreme Court decision.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress have introduced bills that would reverse the Bush administration's changes to Toxics Release Inventory reporting rules.

Ford's decision to close the Cleveland Casting plant in Brook Park will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs in 2009, but it also may offer economic development opportunities. The plant is the third-largest emitter of volatile organic compounds in Greater Cleveland, and Ford can sell the plant's pollution rights. Former Ohio EPA Director Joesph Koncelik wants the agency to establish an emissions trading program.

A coalition of Greater Cleveland agencies expanded the Fine Particle Pollution Program to include sending alerts when airborne soot is predicted to reach unhealthy levels. The agencies will also continue to issue ozone alerts for the seven county area.

Cuyahoga County again received a failing grade in the American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report. The county's ozone grade improved, but the particulate figures were worse than last year. The metropolitan area's air was ranked as the sixth-worst in the nation for annual PM2.5 pollution.

(Update: WKSU has more details.)

Cleveland Clinic physicians Ryan P. Daly and Brian Griffin "urge state and local governments to make a priority of identifying sources of PM2.5", or fine particle pollution. They add that a study in the New England Journal of Medicice implies that current US EPA standards, which Greater Cleveland fails to meet, don't go far enough.

The US EPA proposed a new rule that would make easier for utilities to it make changes to power plants without installing new pollution controls. Critics say that the agency is ignoring the recent Supreme Court ruling on greenhouse gas emissions. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson refused to say how soon the agency will comply with the ruling.

The Cleveland Division of Air Quality launched the Citizens Air Monitoring Program, a new initiative that will supply vacuum canisters to residents so they can collect air samples.

A new report from U.S. PIRG says that Ohio had the fourth-highest level of carbon dioxide emissions in the nation, and the third-highest for those produced by coal-fired power plants. Ohio's emissions grew from 244.9 million metric tons in 1990 to 261.8 million metric tons in 2004, a 7% increase.

The US EPA finalized their Clean Air Fine Particle Implementation Rule on March 29. Most counties in Greater Cleveland were designated as nonattainment areas.

A panel of scientists said that by the end of the century, the Great Lakes region will have a significantly different climate because of global warming. They predicted that Ohio's climate will be much like that of present-day Tennessee or eastern Texas.

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that the Clean Air Act gives the US EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide emissions. The ruling in Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency means that the EPA must regulate tailpipe emissions of greenhouse gasses unless it provides a scientific basis for its refusal. President Bush said he did not plan to impose caps on emissions.

The Supreme Court also unanimously supported a case against Duke Energy and upheld regulations that require the installation of pollution control technology on older coal-fired power plants.

CSU's The Cauldron examined local reactions to the Earth Day Network's 2007 Urban Environment Report, which ranked Cleveland 70th in its list of 72 cities. Cleveland Sustainability Progam Manager Andrew Watterson feels that the methodology was flawed, and that the City is working to address many of the issues raised in the report.

As part of their campaign to get Mittal steel to reduce air pollution emanating from their Cleveland mill, Ohio Citizen Action brought Lois Gibbs, director of the Center for Health, Environment and Justice, to Cleveland. She declared it one of the "hardest-hit neighborhoods" she'd ever seen. Mittal Steel officials maintained that their emissions are well within federal EPA limits.

Residents near Mittal Steel continue to call for stricter emissions controls at the Cleveland steel plant. Mittal representatives again countered that the mill complies with EPA regulations.

The Earth Day Network released an environmental report card that used over 200 indicators to compare US cities. Of the 72 rated cities, Cleveland was ranked 70th, and had the worst air quality score in the country.

(via Planetizen)

Global warming could cause Northeast Ohio temperatures to rise 3-4° F over the next century. Evaporation caused by the higher temperatures may cause Lake Erie water levels to drop by a much as three feet in the next 100 years.

(Update: The Muskegon Chronicle has more information on how global warming could affect the Great Lakes.)

A new staff paper from the US EPA recommends strengthening ozone standards. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has until June 20 to make a proposal, and a new limit must be adopted by March 12, 2008. Meeting new regulations could be challenging for Northeast Ohio, because the region does not comply with current standards.

Yesterday, Ohio Citizen Action released Smoke and Mirrors (MS Word, 4 MB), a report accusing Mittal Steel of failing to accurately disclose the emissions from its Cleveland mill. Mittal officials countered that the plant meets federal regulations and employs standard reporting methodologies.

A NOACA task force and committee have begun studying recommendations for reducing fine particle pollution levels. The recommendations will be incorporated into the Ohio EPA's plan to meet new federal standards.

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