HELENA –The Montana Department of Environmental Quality is formally requesting the Environmental Protection Agency to re-designate Missoula as in compliance with the PM-10 national ambient air quality standard. PM-10 is particulate matter with a diameter of 10 micrometers or less.
“Montanans value clean air and water and the community of Missoula has led the way to move the City into compliance with air quality standards,” noted DEQ Director Tom Livers. “Once Missoula is re-designated, business and industry will have increased opportunities to grow, expand, and create good-paying jobs.”
In 1990, Missoula was designated as a moderate “nonattainment area” for PM-10 as required by the federal Clean Air Act. In the 1980s and early 1990s, Missoula PM-10 emissions were primarily attributed to smoke from residential wood burning and dust from travel on roads. These sources comprised roughly 92 percent of the PM-10 in the air shed.
Monitoring data shows that Missoula has not violated the PM-10 standard since 1989; both the average and peak PM-10 levels have declined substantially from those that contributed to the nonattainment designation.
Because Missoula recognized and implemented a wood stove removal program, restrictions on wood burning devices, and paving requirements for new roads, the city was able to move into compliance with Clean Air Act standards for PM-10. Missoula also enforced emission restrictions for wood burning devices during air pollution alerts and warnings, and required reduced silt loading on paved roads.
“This re-designation request is the result of the hard work and collaboration of the Missoula City-County Health Department, Montana DEQ and the EPA Region 8 technical staffs,” said Missoula County Air Quality Specialist Sarah Coefield.
The Missoula nonattainment area included many small regulated sources and a major source in Roseburg Forest Products. For the past 25 years, these facilities have been impacted by the nonattainment status. As a result of the 1990 nonattainment designation, all facility improvements at the Roseburg facility have been held to a higher standard than comparable changes in the surrounding areas.
Once the EPA approves the re-designation, Roseburg and the smaller regulated sources will be no longer be held to these higher standards. They instead will have to demonstrate that changes to their operations don’t cause or contribute to a violation of the ambient standards, which can usually be done with more cost effective measures.
This is the second recent re-designation effort by DEQ. On June 9, 2016, EPA’s approval of DEQ’s request to re-designate Yellowstone County from nonattainment to attainment for Sulphur dioxide became effective. DEQ will continue to work with the appropriate stakeholders to remove any designation of “nonattainment” that is not necessary to protect the citizens and thus will remove unnecessary regulatory constraints or obligations placed on communities in Montana. Next DEQ will focus on the area around the CHS refinery in Laurel. DEQ is working with the company and officials at EPA to ensure success in re-designating this area as well and plans to submit the request to EPA this fall.