As the Oct. 31 deadline nears for local governments to submit their plans for meeting federal 1982 air quality standards, the metropolitan Council of Governments has been offering a series of workshops for local officials and citizens.
According to Robert Bragam, COG's assistant coordinator for development of the air quality plan, local governments must submit their plans for compliance with Environmental Protection Agency 1982 air quality guidelines to COG, which has been designated by tha State of Maryland to prepare the suburban Maryland section of the state plan. COG will act in a similar capacity in Virginia. States must submit their plans to EPA by Jan. 1.
While officials in Montogomery and Prince George's counties are scurrying to meet the deadline, many citizens in suburban Maryland are unaware of the strictness of the air pollution regulations that are due to be in effect by 1982, according to Dennis Bates, director of COG's department of health and environmental protection.
Batespresided over a workshop recently to discuss the final draft of COG's air quality plan, which will serve as a model for local plans. The session, conducted at the Maryland National Park and planning Commission in Silver Spring, was attended by 13 citizens , 16 staff members from local Maryland governments and 10 COG staff members.
"I suspect with most legislation, the general public is not aware of it," Bates said. "You're talking about the enlightened public who we're talking about the enlightened public who we're trying to teach with these workshops. We hope these are the people who will make their opinions known" at upcoming public hearings.
COG suggests that local governments take the following measures to control air pollution: support public transportation, inspect automobiles for adequate emission control devices and contain stationary air pollution at its source, such as gas pumps.
Montgomery County has scheduled a public hearing for its air quality plan for Oct. 19 at 8 p.m. in the County Council chambers in Rockville. The state of Maryland, in conjunction with COG, will hold a public hearing Oct. 26 at the Maryland Highway Administration, 9300 Kenilworth Ave., Greenbelt, which will start at 3 p.m. and reconvene at 7.30 p.m. to consider the COG draft plan and Maryland's adjoining cover statement.
Once local programs are submitted, COG will develop measures to include in the Maryland 1979 State Air-Qqulity 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 that do notnow meet the current EPA standards for ozone and carbon monoxide pollution.
A state's failure to submit its plans by Jan. 1 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 accordance 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 summitting "responsible" plans is not met, according to the legislation.
Accoding to COG's figures for 1976, Washington area 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 into the atmosphere between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m. daily 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 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. While these procedures are unlikely to be included in the plans submitted later this month, COG recommends further study and possible later implementation.
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, and establishing regulations that gasoline tank trucks be sealed tighter to prevent vapor from escaping.
COG also recommends delaying the switch from petroleum-based to water-based saphalt for roads from April 15 to Sept. 15 because water-based asphalt does not release hydrocarbons into the air during hot weather as does the petroleum-based asphalt.
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.
While these measures should signficantly improve air quality in suburban Maryland, one citizen at the meeting suggested certain areas, such as Silver Spring, would suffer because large amounts of traffic would be funneled there to enable the drivers to rideMetrorail.
Margaret Parks, of 9221 Wendell St., Silver Spring because of Metro and that the planned expansion of the 23,000 parking spaces in that area would make the problem worse.
"Sacrificial lamb is an interesting term. I never though of it in that way," said Parks, a 25-year resident of Silver Spring. "The thing that bothers me is the Silver Spring station has the longest interim period of any Metro station. And with Takoma (another station) so close, there's greater congestion."
(The extension of the Red Line from Silver Spring to Glenmont is not scheduled to be completed until 1987, according to current plans.)
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 the required standards for ozone levels, and a 14 percent decrease in carbon monoxide emissions would be necessary.
The layer of ozone in the stratosphere is a protection against ultraviolet radration, 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 an air quality that will meet national standards.