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EPA Responses to Certain State Designation Recommendations for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards: Notice of Availability and Public Comment Period

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).


Notification of availability and public comment period.


Notice is hereby given that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has posted on our public electronic docket and internet website responses to certain state and tribal area designation recommendations for the 2015 Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (2015 Ozone NAAQS). These responses include our intended designations for the affected areas. The EPA invites the public to review and provide input on our intended designations during the comment period specified in the DATES section. The EPA sent its responses directly to the states and tribes on or about December 20, 2017. The EPA intends to make final designation determinations for the areas of the country addressed by these responses no earlier than 120 days from the date the EPA notified states and tribes of the agency's intended designations.


Comments must be received on or before February 5, 2018. Please refer to SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for additional information on the comment period.


Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548, at Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. Once submitted, comments cannot be edited or removed from The EPA may publish any comment received to our public docket. Do not submit electronically any information you consider to be Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information whose disclosure is restricted by statute. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment. The written comment is considered the official comment and should include discussion of all points you wish to make. The EPA will generally not consider comments or comment contents located outside of the primary submission (i.e., on the Web, Cloud, or other file sharing system). For additional submission methods, the full EPA public comment policy, information about CBI or multimedia submissions, and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit​dockets/​commenting-epa-dockets.

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For general questions concerning this action, please contact Denise Scott, U.S. EPA, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Air Quality Policy Division, C539-01, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, telephone (919) 541-4280, email at The EPA contacts listed at the beginning of the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION can answer questions regarding areas in a particular EPA Regional office.

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Regional Office Contacts:

Region I—Richard Burkhart (617) 918-1664

Region II—Omar Hammad (212) 637-3347

Region III—Maria Pino (215) 814-2181

Region IV—Jane Spann (404) 562-9029

Region V—Kathleen D'Agostino (312) 886-1767

Region VI—Carrie Paige (214) 665-6521

Region VII—Lachala Kemp (913) 551-7214

Region VIII—Chris Dresser (303) 312-6385

Region IX—Laura Lawrence (415) 972-3407

Region X—Karl Pepple (206) 553-1778

The public may inspect the recommendations from the states and tribes, our recent letters notifying the affected states and tribes of our intended designations, and area-specific technical support information at the following locations:

Regional officesStates
Dave Conroy, Chief, Air Programs Branch, EPA New England, 1 Congress Street, Suite 1100, Boston, MA 02114-2023, (617) 918-1661Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
Richard Ruvo, Chief, Air Programs Branch, EPA Region II, 290 Broadway, 25th Floor, New York, NY 10007-1866, (212) 637-4014New Jersey, New York, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands.
Cynthia H. Stahl, Acting Associate Director, Office of Air Program Planning, EPA Region III, 1650 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2187, (215) 814-2180Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and West Virginia.
R. Scott Davis, Chief, Air Planning Branch, EPA Region IV, Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, 61 Forsyth Street SW, 12th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30303, (404) 562-9127Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
John Mooney, Chief, Air Programs Branch, EPA Region V, 77 West Jackson Street, Chicago, IL 60604, (312) 886-6043Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin.
Alan Shar, Acting Chief, Air Planning Section, EPA Region VI, 1445 Ross Avenue, Dallas, TX 75202, (214) 665-6691Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Mike Jay, Chief, Air Programs Branch, EPA Region VII, 11201 Renner Blvd., Lenexa, KS 66129, (913) 551-7460Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska.
Monica Morales, Air Program Director, EPA Region VIII, 1595 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202-1129, (303) 312-6936Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming.
Doris Lo, Air Planning Office, EPA Region IX, 75 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105, (415) 972-3959American Samoa, Arizona, California, Guam, Hawaii, Nevada, Northern Mariana Islands, Navajo Nation, and the Hopi Tribe.
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Debra Suzuki, Manager, State and Tribal Air Programs, EPA Region X, Office of Air, Waste, and Toxics, Mail Code OAQ-107, 1200 Sixth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98101, (206) 553-0985Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

The information can also be reviewed online at​ozone-designations and in the public docket for these ozone designations at under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548.

I. What is the purpose of this action?

The purpose of this notice of availability is to solicit input from interested parties other than states and tribes on the EPA's recent responses to the state and tribal designation recommendations for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS. These responses, and their supporting technical analyses, can be found at​ozone-designations and in the public docket for these ozone designations at under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548.

On October 1, 2015, the EPA Administrator signed a notice of final rulemaking that revised the primary and secondary ozone NAAQS (80 FR 65292; October 26, 2015). The EPA established the revised primary and secondary ozone NAAQS at 0.070 parts per million (ppm). The 2015 Ozone NAAQS are met at an ambient air quality monitoring site when the 3-year average of the annual fourth highest daily maximum 8-hour average ozone concentration (i.e., the design value) is less than or equal to 0.070 ppm. The revised standards will improve public health protection, particularly for at-risk groups including children, older adults, people of all ages who have lung diseases such as asthma, and people who are active outdoors, especially outdoor workers. They also will improve the health of trees, plants and ecosystems.

After the EPA promulgates a new or revised NAAQS, the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires the EPA to designate all areas of the country as either “Nonattainment,” “Attainment,” or “Unclassifiable,” for that NAAQS. The process for these initial designations is contained in CAA section 107(d)(1) (42 U.S.C. 7407). After promulgation of a new or revised NAAQS, each governor or tribal leader has an opportunity to recommend air quality designations, including the appropriate boundaries for Nonattainment areas, to the EPA. The EPA considers these recommendations as part of its duty to promulgate the formal area designations and boundaries for the new or revised NAAQS. By no later than 120 days prior to promulgating designations, the EPA is required to notify states, territories, and tribes, as appropriate, of any intended modifications to an area designation or boundary recommendation that the EPA deems necessary.

On November 6, 2017, the EPA established initial air quality designations for most areas in the United States, including most areas of Indian country, for the 2015 primary and secondary ozone NAAQS 82 FR 54232, November 16, 2017). In that action, the EPA designated 2,646 counties, including Indian country located in those counties, two separate areas of Indian country, and five territories as Attainment/Unclassifiable and three counties as Unclassifiable.

This current action provides the EPA's intended designation of all remaining undesignated areas. On or about December 20, 2017, consistent with section 107(d)(1)(b)(ii) of the CAA, the EPA notified affected states and tribes of the remaining recommended designations.[1] While the EPA is in agreement with the recommendations for most areas, the EPA indicated that in some instances it intended to modify a state or tribal recommends. States and tribes have the opportunity during the 120-day process to provide additional information for the EPA to consider in making the final designation decisions. We stand ready to assist and hope to resolve any differences regarding the proper designation for all remaining areas within the 120-day process provided by the CAA.

Once designations take effect, they govern what subsequent regulatory actions states, tribes, and the EPA must take in order to improve or preserve air quality in each area.

II. Instructions for Submitting Public Comments and Internet Website for Rulemaking Information

A. Invitation To Comment

The purpose of this notice is to solicit input from interested parties, other than the states and tribes to which we have sent notification letters, on the EPA's recent responses to the designation recommendations for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS. These responses, and their supporting technical analyses, can be found at​ozone-designations and in the public docket for these ozone designations at Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548. The EPA Docket Office can be contacted at (202) 566-1744, and is located at EPA Docket Center Reading Room, WJC West Building, Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004. The hours of operation at the EPA Docket Center are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Monday-Friday.

CAA section 107(d)(1) provides a process for air quality designations that involves recommendations by states, territories, and tribes to the EPA and responses from the EPA to those parties, prior to the EPA promulgating final area designations and boundaries. The EPA is not required under the CAA section 107(d)(1) to seek public comment during the designation process, but we are electing to do so for these areas with respect to the 2015 Ozone NAAQS in order to gather additional information for the EPA to consider before making final designations for the specific areas addressed in the EPA's recent letters to states and tribes. The EPA invites public input on our responses to states and tribes regarding these areas during the 30-day comment period provided in this notice. In order to receive full consideration, input from the public must be submitted to the docket by February 5, 2018. This notice and opportunity for public comment does not affect any rights or obligations of any state, or tribe, or of the EPA, which might otherwise exist pursuant to the CAA section 107(d).

Please refer to the ADDRESSES section in this document for specific instructions on submitting comments and locating relevant public documents.

In establishing Nonattainment area boundaries for a particular area, CAA section 107(d)(1)(A) requires the EPA to include within the boundaries both the area that does not meet the standard and any nearby area contributing to ambient air quality in the area that does not meet the NAAQS. We are particularly interested in receiving comments, supported by relevant information addressing the section 107(d)(1)(A) criteria, if you believe that a specific geographic area should not be categorized as Nonattainment, or if you Start Printed Page 653believe that an area the EPA had indicated that it intends to designate as Attainment/Unclassifiable or Unclassifiable should in fact be categorized Nonattainment based on the presence of a violating monitor in the area or based on contribution to ambient air quality in a nearby areas. Please be as specific as possible in supporting your views.

  • Describe any assumptions and provide any technical information and/or data that you used.
  • Provide specific examples to illustrate your concerns, and suggest alternatives.
  • Explain your views as clearly as possible.
  • Provide your input by the comment period deadline identified.

The EPA intends to complete designations for all of the areas addressed in the responses to the states and tribes no later than April 30, 2018. This would complete the designation process for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS.

B. What should I consider as I prepare my comments for the EPA?

1. Submitting CBI. Do not submit CBI information to the EPA through or email. Clearly mark the part or all of the information that you claim to be CBI. For CBI in a disk or CD ROM that you mail to the EPA, mark the outside of the disk or CD ROM as CBI and then identify electronically within the disk or CD ROM the specific information that is claimed as CBI. In addition to one complete version of the comment that includes information claimed as CBI, a copy of the comment that does not contain the information claimed as CBI must be submitted for inclusion in the public docket. Information so marked will not be disclosed except in accordance with procedures set forth in 40 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) part 2. Send or deliver information identified as CBI only to the following address: Tiffany Purifoy, OAQPS CBI Officer, U.S. EPA, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, Mail Code C404-02, Research Triangle Park, NC 27711, telephone (919) 541-0878, email at, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2017-0548.

2. Tips for Preparing Your Comments. When submitting comments, remember to:

  • Identify the rulemaking by docket number and other identifying information (subject heading, Federal Register date and page number).
  • Follow directions.
  • Explain why you agree or disagree; suggest alternatives and substitute language for your requested changes.

C. Where can I find additional information for this rulemaking?

The EPA has also established a website for this rulemaking at​ozone-designations. The website includes the state, territorial and tribal recommendations, the EPA's intended area designations, information supporting the EPA's preliminary designation decisions, the EPA's designation guidance for the 2015 Ozone NAAQS as well as the rulemaking actions and other related information that the public may find useful.

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Dated: December 21, 2017.

Peter Tsirigotis,

Acting Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards.

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1.  Note that the EPA completed the area designations for the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands in the November 6, 2017, designations action.

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[FR Doc. 2018-00024 Filed 1-4-18; 8:45 am]