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December 15, 2003

Council asks EPA to accept DEC suggestion on classifying emissions in New York City

The Business Council has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to exclude data from the Ocean County, New Jersey, area in assessing how well metropolitan New York City complies with a key federal environmental standard.

Ocean County may send commuters to New York City, but it does not send emissions, Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh said in a Dec. 8 letter to Michael O. Leavitt, EPA administrator.

For this reason, considering Ocean County emissions in evaluating New York City's compliance with federal environmental regulations "would subject New York State businesses and residents to millions of dollars in additional expenditures that will have no practical impact on air quality at the Ocean County monitoring site," the letter said.

These additional costs for New York businesses and residents "are unnecessary to meet the downstate area's legitimate ozone attainment obligations," the letter added.

The letter urged the EPA to accept the recommendation of the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to revise the EPA's proposed classification approach by considering Ocean County part of the Philadelphia area.

This would make metropolitan New York City a "moderate non-attainment area." That ranking would accurately reflect "the aggressive efforts taken by New York State toward [volatile organic compounds] and [nitrious oxides] reductions since the 1990 Clean Air Act amendments."

That law, and additional state requirements, have improved air quality significantly - but at "a significant price in terms of direct expenditures and reduced cost-competitiveness for New York State businesses," the letter said.

If the EPA proposal takes effect, New York City would be considered a "serious non-attainment area" for ozone. This would trigger even more stringent and costly emission-control strategies, additional restrictions on business operations, and increased costs for businesses and residents alike, the letter noted.