Cincinnati’s air quality improves, named ‘Climate Showcase Community’

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is “proposing to approve” a request from the states of Ohio and Indiana to redesignate parts of the Cincinnati metropolitan area in attainment of the national health-based eight-hour outdoor standard for ozone. The two-state request includes Dearborn County in Indiana, and Butler, Clermont, Clinton, Hamilton, and Warren Counties in Ohio.

In a press release, officials from the EPA state that after three years of “complete, quality-assured, outdoor air monitoring data for 2007, 2008 and 2009 show that the area now meets the air quality standard.” The EPA is also proposing to approve Ohio and Indiana’s plans to continue to meet the air quality standard through 2020, and to approve motor vehicle emission budgets for the included areas.

Just days after the EPA’s air-quality announcement, Cincinnati was awarded a $500,000 federal grant that will help promote the city’s Green Cincinnati Plan as part of 20 Climate Showcase Communities nationwide. The grant money will specifically go towards funding advertisements, promotions and the development of a climate protection toolkit for use in local schools.

“The Green Cincinnati Plan is an innovative strategy to reduce greenhouse gases and cut energy bills for families and businesses,” said Cheryl Newton, EPA Region 5 air division director. “Taking action on climate change is one of EPA’s top priorities, and the EPA is pleased to support the city’s efforts to fight climate change.”

As part of the $500,000 federal grant, Cincinnati will contribute $250,000 in matching funds and has committed to acting as a regional leader by sharing lessons learned with neighboring communities. The Cincinnati Energy Alliance (CEA) will be tapped to provide energy audits for 20 nonprofit organizations and create a loan program to finance energy efficiency improvements.

Over the three-year course of this project officials expect to see Cincinnati’s greenhouse gas emissions reduce by 2 percent annually. CEA’s energy audits are expected to spur close to $500,000 in energy efficiency measures while saving 1 million kilowatts of electricity and 25,000 therms of gas.

“This is a tremendous achievement for our city,” said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory. “Our Green Cincinnati Action Plan is a collaboration among dedicated citizens, community organizations and businesses in our region. Our partners all realize that making Cincinnati a ‘Green City’ is essential to making Cincinnati a successful city in the future.”

Do Your Share For Cleaner Air photograph by JasonTT.

By Randy A. Simes

Randy is an award-winning urban planner who founded UrbanCincy in May 2007. He grew up on Cincinnati’s west side in Covedale, and graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s nationally acclaimed School of Planning in June 2009. In addition to maintaining ownership and serving as the managing editor for UrbanCincy, Randy has worked professionally as a planning consultant throughout the United States, Korea and the Middle East. After brief stints in Atlanta and Chicago, he currently lives in the Daechi neighborhood of Seoul’s Gangnam district.