A deadline set by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) for local jurisdictions to formulate air quality control policies is nearing, with most Northern Virginians unaware that they may be hit with strict anti-pollution regulations by 1982, according to Dennis Bates, Director of COG's department of health and environmental protection.
Bates presided over a workshop Monday night to discuss the final draft of COG's air quality plan. The workshop, at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, was attended by 19 citizens, seven staff members from local Virginia governments and eight COG staff member. The COG plan will serve as a model for local air pollution measures.
"I think the majority of people are not aware" of the federal legislation requiring stricter anti-pollution measures, Bates said.
According to Robert Bragan, a COG staff member, local jurisdictions should be developing their own plans for compliance with Environmental Protection Agency air quality guidelines by 1982. Deadline for the submission of local plans to COG is Oct. 31. COG has been designated by the State of Virginia to prepare the Northern Virginia section of the state plan.
To help local jurisdictions draw up their own plans, COG is suggesting the following measures to control air pollution: supporting public transportation, inspecting automobiles for adequate emission control devices, and containing stationary air pollution at its source, such as gas pumps.
Local plans will be aired at a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Oct. 25 at Fairfax City Council Chambers, 10455 Armstrong St., Fairfax.
Once local programs are submitted, COG will develop measures to include in the Virginia 1979 State Air Quality Plan, which must be submitted by Jan. 1.
The Clean Air Act Amendments of 1977 require state and local governments to cooperate in creating air-quality control policies in areas, such as metropolitan Washington, which do not now meet the current EPA standards for ozone and carbon monoxide pollution.
A state's failure to submit to EPA by Jan. 1 its plans to reduce air pollution by 1982 will bring sanctions, including the cut off of federal sewer and water funds and funds for most highway projects as of July 1979, in acccordance with the Clean Air Act Amendments.
An extension of up to five years beyond the 1982 deadline for meeting air quality standards will be allowed if need is demonstrated. The extension will not be granted, however, if the Jan. 1 deadline for submitting "responsible" plans is not met, according to the legislation.
According to 1976 EPA figures, Washington air was polluted by an average of 70 tons of hydrocarbons each day, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; or 2 1/2 times the acceptable level of 28 tons. A 45 percent reduction of the nearly 1,200 tons of carbon monoxide put daily into the atmosphere also is necessary to meet EPA guidelines.
COG's proposals to clean up vehicle emissions could affect consumers most. An annual inspection of automobile emissions systems, already in effect in the District, would cost the consumer an inspection fee, probably $5, under the COG proposal. Repairs needed to make autos fit new standards would mean additional expense. Other suggestions are inspections and maintenance of heavy-duty trucks, modification of their design and conversion of fleet vehicles to cleaner fuels.
Stationary source clean-up measures suggested by COG include equipping gas station pumps with vapor recovery hoses, such as those already used by District stations; establishing regulations that gasoline tank trucks be sealed tighter to prevent vapor from escaping, and the conversion from petroleum-based to water-based asphalt for roads, except that used from April 15 to Sept. 15.
Measures proposed under the heading of transportation include the continued construction of Metrorail; an increase in parking rates for government employes to conform with commercial levels; the elimination of all-day, on-street, nonresident parking in selected areas and the creation of more fringe parking for commuters.
Even with the implementation of all these proposals and more, Washington will fall short of the 1982 national standards, according to the COG report. An additional 27 percent reduction in emissions projected for 1982 would still be needed to meet standards for ozone levels described in the 1977 amendments and a 14 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions would be necessary.
The layer of ozone in the stratosphere is a protection against ultra-violet radiation, but ozone that is artifically produced at lower levels by pollutants is an irritant to human beings, according to experts.
Bates pointed to 1987, the end of the possible five-year extension, as the realistic point at which the Washington area will have air good enough to meet national standards.