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Revised Designation Recommendation for the 2010 Sulfur Dioxide NAAQS

The following is the content of a letter sent to the Regional Administrator at the USEPA, Judith A. Enck. The letter was signed on September 18, 2015 by Marc Gerstman, Acting Commissioner.

On behalf of the Governor of the State of New York, I am submitting for consideration by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the "New York State Revised Designation Recommendation for the 2010 Primary Sulfur Dioxide National Ambient Air Quality Standard." (PDF 2.05 MB, 77 pgs) DEC is recommending that EPA designate the Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY Combined Statistical Area (CSA), which includes the counties of Cattaraugus, Erie and Niagara, as attainment with the 2010 sulfur dioxide (SO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS).

On June 2, 2010, EPA strengthened the primary SO2 NAAQS by establishing a new 1-hour primary standard at the level of 75 parts per billion. This revision of the NAAQS required New York to make recommendations to EPA no later than June 2, 2011 for areas to be designated attainment, nonattainment and/or unclassifiable. DEC submitted that designation recommendation on June 1, 2011.

On July 27, 2012, EPA announced that it had insufficient information to complete the designations for the 1-hour SO2 NAAQS within two years and extended the designations deadline to June 3, 2013. Then, on February 6, 2013, EPA notified Governor Cuomo that EPA was designating as nonattainment most areas in locations where existing monitoring data from 2009-2011 indicated violations of the 1-hour SO2 NAAQS. EPA's review of the monitored air quality data from 2009-2011 showed no violations of the 2010 SO2 standard in any areas in New York, but EPA deferred action to designate areas in New York.

On March 2, 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California approved a Consent Decree between EPA and Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council to resolve litigation concerning the deadline for completing the designations. The court's order directed EPA to complete designations for all remaining areas in the country in up to three additional rounds: the first round by July 2, 2016, the second round by December 31, 2017, and the final round by December 31, 2020.

In a letter dated March 20, 2015, EPA informed DEC that two counties (Erie and Niagara) in New York State will be addressed in the next round of designations. In the same letter, EPA requested that if a state would like to submit an updated designation recommendation and supporting information for EPA to consider for the affected areas, that it should do so by September 18, 2015. This submittal constitutes that updated designation recommendation request. DEC acknowledges that EPA intends to designate these areas as either unclassifiable/attainment, nonattainment or unclassifiable by July 2, 2016.

Based on air quality monitoring for the years 2012-2014 and air quality modeling done in accordance with EPA guidance, DEC is recommending that the entire Buffalo-Cheektowaga, NY CSA be designated as attainment with the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. While EPA is only requiring that Erie and Niagara counties be considered in this round of designations, DEC has included an analysis for Cattaraugus County, the remaining county within the Buffalo-Cheektowaga CSA. Since Cattaraugus County contains no large point sources and nearby monitoring indicates air quality that far exceeds what is required for attainment, DEC included it in this revised designation recommendation.

Should you have any questions regarding this submission, please do not hesitate to contact Mr. David J. Shaw, Director of the Department's Division of Air Resources at (518) 402-8452 with any questions you may have.

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