Clean Air Counts
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The Clean Air Counts process began in March 1999. It started as a policy development forum called the Regional Dialogue on Clean Air and Redevelopment that was initiated to find a way to improve air quality and meet the standards of the Clean Air Act without compromising the economic development of the region. Area stakeholders met for six months to develop emission reduction strategies that also support regional development.

Many ideas emerged from the policy development phased including changes in transportation policies, operations and maintenance activities, and legislative additions and revisionsaimed at addressing the unique challenges of different constituencies.

The multi-year implementation phase, which began in November 1999, is now called Clean Air Counts. The five campaigns were developed and launched in June 2000 as a pilot program to ensure that the Chicago area would develop strategies for reducing the region’s ozone.

Clean Air Counts was initiated because repeated violations of the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ground level ozone (smog) have resulted in the metropolitan Chicago region’s designation as a severe nonattainment area. Only ten regions in the nation have earned this dubious distinction. The ozone standard specifies the maximum allowable level of one-hour ozone concentrations. The US EPA developed a more stringent standard in 2004 – an eight hour standard – that specifies the maximum allowable level of eight hour average ozone concentration.

Most of the campaign strategies are voluntary but include incentives to encourage source reductions that traditionally have been difficult to target such as non-regulated businesses, local government and individual households. Ultimately, the solutions to our ozone problems lie in a coordinated regional effort that takes advantage of this broad constituency. Following with this idea, Clean Air Counts endeavors to improve air quality in a manner that is not just evident, but quantifiable. By tracking the success of individual participants in reducing emissions, Clean Air Counts hopes to monitor the region’s progress towards achieving attainment and thus build public and private sector participation.

CLEAN AIR COUNTS:   177 North State Street, 5th Floor      [email protected]