EPA may tighten regulations

  • Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency may soon tighten regulations for ozone control, and state, regional and local agencies are working together to be ready.

Three employees of the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) – Maeve Mason, Tommy Flynn and Jack Porter – spoke at the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments’ (WRCOG’s) Waccamaw Air Quality Coalition meeting in Georgetown on Aug. 27.

Porter, with DHEC’s Bureau of Air Quality, discussed ways the public can help reduce ozone pollution and its Breath Better anti-idoling campaign.

The campaign encourages anti-idoling practices when sitting in a car, for example when parents are picking up their children from school.

It targets cars, school buses and delivery trucks which are major sources of air pollution in South Carolina.

According to a brochure about the campaign, idling wastes about a half gallon of fuel per hour and releases many pollutants that can harm human health and the environment.

“Pollution from vehicle exhaust has been linked to asthma and other respiratory diseases and increases the risk of long-term health effects,” the DHEC brochure states.

“Children are more sensitive to air pollution than adults since their lungs are still developing.

“Reducing idling time, especially on school campuses, helps to protect children from unnecessary emissions that could harm their health.”

Other environmental project opportunities include Champions of the Environment, Green Steps Schools and Spare the Air Awards.

For more information, visit www.scdhec.gov, or call Debra Briggs-Monroe at 803-898-3752, or Leslie Cooledge at 803-898-3208.

Porter also mentioned a Park and Ride program in North Augusta, Ga. that had 200-plus parking spaces, video surveillance, LED lighting and rain gardens.

This $1.6 million project funded by the S.C. Department of Transportation was designed to be used by commuters and workers from nearby industry.

“It is a really cool thing,” Porter said.

“It’s a small drop in the bucket, but it is one drop.”

He said with the upcoming tightening of federal standards for pollution every reduction is going to be important.

Flynn updated the coalition on the Horry County Monitoring System to keep track of air pollution.

He said DHEC is looking at locating the monitoring system at Coastal Carolina University in Conway.

The EPA expects the monitoring site to be up and running next year.

DHEC chose CCU because it has infrastructure in place to support it and it already has a windspeed monitoring system that can detect the direction wind is going in the upper air.

Mason, manager for DHEC’s Regulatory and State Implementation Plans, gave an overview of how regulations are developed.

She said that DHEC decides on a regulatory change based on public comment, a change in state or federal law requirements, internal meetings or other events that make the change necessary.

DHEC then gives notice and holds a public hearing if it is requested. Then the plan has to be approved by the EPA, after which DHEC gives notice of the final regulation.

“We need your comments for regulations and state implementation plans,” Mason said.

“The EPA is being held to task based on comments from the public.”

She said people can review federal regulations and comment on them on the DHEC website.

Daniel Newquist, community planner with WRCOG and chair of the Waccamaw Air Quality Coalition, said it plans to hold another meeting before the end of the year, probably in December.

“We are always glad to hear about suggestions on new topics for presentations,” Newquist said.

“I encourage you to contact me so we can get your suggestions in the pipeline.”

To contact Newquist, call

843-436-6131, or e-mail him at dnewquist@wrcog.org.

According to its website, WRCOG is a quasi-governmental agency that fosters inter-governmental cooperation and innovative partnerships for the communities within the three-county region it serves. That region includes Georgetown, Horry and Williamsburg counties.

Created in 1969, WRCOG is a link between county governments, municipalities and residents. Its expansive range of services help local governments make and implement joint regional decisions, and identify and solve problems best addressed at the regional level.

WRCOG operates under the guidance of a 25-member Board of Directors comprised of elected officials and citizens-at-large from the tri-county area.

For information about WRCOG, visit its website at www.wrcog.org. There is a section devoted to the Air Quality Coalition.

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