Arizona business leaders warn of ‘unattainable’ federal air quality proposals



(The Center Square)— The state Joint Legislative Ad Hoc Committee on Air Quality and Energy held a hearing Thursday to discuss how federal air quality policy could impact Maricopa County, as the Environmental Protection Agency is considering raising compliance standards.

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Air Quality Division Director Daniel Czecholinski went over the state implementation plan backed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

“They may not approve the [State Implementation Plan] fully, they may partially approve the SIP,” Czecholinski said when asked by Sen. Sine Kerr, R-Buckeye, about the approval process and potential consequences for not meeting the EPA’s standards.

Lawmakers also asked questions about climate events in other states, like wildfire smoke from California, and how that could impact federal standards.

“ADEQ could not remove those emissions from our design value […] even though they are outside of our control to do anything on them,” Czecholinski said.

“I don’t have an answer for you,” he said when asked what the Legislature can do to help throughout this process.

“Why would we roll over and comply with unattainable that maybe were poorly conceived?” Rep. Barbara Parker, R-Mesa, asked, suggesting that the Legislature work to flout the EPA, to which Czecholinski said that previous lawsuit attempts have been unsuccessful.

The Center Square reported in May that the EPA was looking to lower the standards of what would qualify as a nonattainment zone, meaning they have more particulate matter in the air than the federal government would like. There are 16 nonattainment areas in the state, including Phoenix. Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Daniel Seiden told The Center Square that the possible changes in EPA standards could negatively impact businesses through consequential regulations.

Seiden mentioned in his presentation to the committee that the Maricopa County Association of Governments (MAG) already has 93 control measures in place but said that Arizona lawmakers and stakeholders must unify in order to persuade the EPA for more fitting standards.

“If we’re not working together, there’s gonna be an impasse at some point,” Seiden said.

Phoenix and Yuma are the only nonattainment areas for ozone in the state, while the other areas deal with other kinds of particulate matter, according to ADEQ.

“If you were to pull all the cars off the road right now […] it would not bring us into attainment,” Seiden said. “We are not producing the ozone problem here locally,” he later added regarding the Phoenix area.

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