D.C., PHILADELPHIA AND OTHER CITIES MEET AIR QUALITY GOAL ON OZONE

Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and St. Louis and three other metro areas in the U.S. expect they will meet their air quality goals under a Bush-era regulation on ground-level ozone thanks to a one-year extension from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those cities -- along with Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Eastern San Luis Obispo County in California -- missed a deadline last year to meet the 2008 ozone standards. The EPA could have made those areas come up with more extensive pollution control plans, but instead, the agency offered those areas a one-year compliance deadline extension because we've seen positive trends in air quality monitoring data.

Here's why the additional year is so important for those areas: Because compliance is based a three-year average of air quality data, the one-year extension allowed regulators to use data from 2013-2015, rather than 2012-2014. For the six areas, 2015 was better year for air quality than 2012: 

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Not all cities that received an extension were so fortunate: The Houston and Sheboygan, Wis., areas are still unable to meet the ozone standards of 75 parts per billion and expect to soon be labeled as "moderate nonattainment areas," a designation that triggers the more extensive pollution control plans.

While Philadelphia, Cleveland and other cities can now show that they meet the 2008 ozone standards, they still face looming designations under the more stringent Obama-era 2015 ozone standards of 70 parts per billion, which will be made in 2017.

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