First Symposium on Policy Research


Integrating atmospheric science into air quality planning: Challenges and opportunities

Daniel S. Cohan, Georgia Environmental Protection Division, Atlanta, GA

Over the years, advances in atmospheric science have strongly shaped air quality attainment efforts and greatly enhanced their cost-effectiveness. For example, recognition of the role of abundant biogenic isoprene emissions has led southeastern states to shift their ozone control focus from hydrocarbons to nitrogen oxides. However, full incorporation of atmospheric science into attainment planning at the state and local levels has been hindered by several factors, including (1) lack of sufficient training, library resources, and scientific community interaction among agency personnel, (2) regulatory mandates and a litigious environment that create a tension between applying the most scientifically valid and the most readily approvable methods, and (3) a paucity of atmospheric science literature that directly addresses the needs of attainment planning. With dozens of regions now confronting multi-pollutant attainment dilemmas for ozone, particulate matter and regional haze, the need for atmospheric science to effectively inform air quality planning has never been greater.

Is atmospheric science meeting the needs of air quality attainment planning? Examples are presented to illustrate how certain modeling and observational techniques frequently applied in the scientific literature may not be directly relevant to local air quality circumstances. Even when scientific advances are relevant, state and local air protection agencies face important challenges and opportunities as they seek to incorporate the lessons of atmospheric science into the myriad of practical, political, and economic realities that influence the control strategy development process. An integrated framework is presented by which atmospheric sensitivity analyses and assessments of observational data can be linked with economic and epidemiological considerations to help states develop strategies that are both more cost-effective and more likely to result in actual attainment of air quality standards.


Session 1, Policy Research in the Earth System Sciences
Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, A307

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