NC breathing a little easier in 2014

By Stephanie Carson
Public News Service-NC

CHARLOTTE — It may the time of year when North Carolinians are holding their breath for the next freeze warning, but the latest data on 2014 ozone levels in the Tarheel State indicates people can take a small sigh of relief about the air they breathe.

Ozone levels in North Carolina were the lowest on record this year, marking the first time the state hasn’t exceeded the federal ozone standard since the 1970s. However, ozone levels in metro areas such as Charlotte continue to reach 75 parts per billion, and June Blotnick, executive director of Clean Air Carolina, says more work needs to be done.

A Clean Air Carolina photo Residents and elected officials gather at a recent Clean Air Carolina event in Greensboro to discuss clean energy strategies for the state.

A Clean Air Carolina photo
Residents and elected officials gather at a recent Clean Air Carolina event in Greensboro to discuss clean energy strategies for the state.

“We can celebrate the decreasing levels of ozone in the state, but our work is far from over to improve air quality to where it’s healthy,” she says.

While ozone levels were at record low levels for the second time in the last two years, the EPA is expected to release updated federal ozone standards in December. Blotnick says their standard could be between 60 and 70 parts per billion, which would place levels in many metropolitan cities above federal standards.

The improved ozone levels are believed to be a result of cooler temperatures this summer, combined with reduced emissions from power plants. Blotnick says there is sufficient support from her group and other organizations for elected officials and citizens to expand clean energy in North Carolina.

“North Carolina is really in a great position in the country to improve our air quality even more, and create jobs by reducing carbon from the power sector,” she says.

A North Carolina Division of Air Quality report shows the state’s coal-fired power plants have cut their nitrogen oxide emissions by at least 80 percent since 2002.

Filed in: Latest Headlines, Outdoors

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