Amid a petition to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for better air pollution control in five states, Maryland was selected to lead a regional air quality board.
Maryland Secretary of the Environment Ben Grumbles was unanimously elected chairman of the Ozone Transport Commission.
The Frederick News-Post reports,
The commission is a 13-state collaboration created under the federal Clean Air Act to control interstate smog. It advises the EPA on the long-distance movement of airborne pollution from power plants, vehicles and factories and develops regional solutions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.
Maryland and other states are currently trying to figure out how to comply with new National Ambient Air Quality Standards that lower acceptable levels of ozone from 75 to 70 parts per billion. Seventy percent of Maryland’s ozone currently comes from out of state sources, Grumbles said during an in-person interview on Friday.
Ozone acts as natural protection from ultraviolet radiation as light passes through the higher parts of the atmosphere. At the ground-level, ozone – also known as smog – can irritate the respiratory system and aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases.
Maryland has one of the best air quality modeling and monitoring systems in the region, Grumbles said. He brings data and scientists to the meetings with him to help the commission.
Grumbles served as secretary during his first year on the commission in 2015 and then vice-chairman in 2016.
“It’s an opportunity for us to make sure the Ozone Transport Commission follows the science,” Grumbles said.
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