EVs and Asthma: Reviving Maryland’s Clean Air by 2050

This blog post is Part 2 of a two-part blog post regarding ozone pollution in Maryland. To read Part 1 please click here.

The Clean Air Act Amendment of 1977 dramatically increased the focus on non-attainment areas that were not meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards required by the original Clean Air Act of 1963. By 1997,13 of Maryland’s 24 counties were listed by the EPA as non-attainment areas, with 7 of these counties listed under the highest level of ozone pollution possible by EPA standards. National ozone levels declined in the 1980s, leveled off in the 1990s, and declined again after 2002 with a 25% ozone reduction rate at the national level, yet only a 7% reduction rate in Maryland and the rest of the North East.

Maryland currently has 16 ozone-monitoring sites across the state which measure ozone generated by the Maryland Department of the Environment’s identified eight sources of local ozone contributors:

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 (Courtesy of the Maryland Department of the Environment)

On-road and non-road mobile sources make up 75% of the ozone created, thus proving the growing importance of the alternative fuel market and more specifically the electric vehicle industry.

In the upcoming year, the Maryland Department of the Environment will be submitting an updated report to the EPA regarding the 2009 Maryland Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act with progress reports and recommendations to meet the 2050 90% greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal. The GGRA originally required a 25% reduction in GHGEs (Greenhouse Gas Emissions) by 2020 from a 2006 baseline. 55 million tons of GHGEs reductions are needed to meet that specific goal by 2020 and the updated 2015 report will include a plan for the remaining reductions needed by 2050.  Of the 55 million tons needing to be eliminated, 46% of all reductions by 2020 will be coming from the energy sector, 25% from transportation, and 29% from remaining sectors all by reducing the amount of gasses released and switching to cleaner forms of energy.

The implementation of EVs into both commercial fleets and personal use will drastically aid the 25% reduction in GHGEs needed by 2020 and will significantly reduce the amount of ozone created in the Baltimore/ Washington metropolitan area. Net GHG and ozone emissions from battery-powered cars are reduced by approximately 60% regarding ozone and 90% regarding other GHGs. The polluting north-wind states have invested over $135 billion in reducing the amount of ozone transported downwind to Maryland, but Maryland cannot achieve its long-term air quality, climate, public health, and Bay Restoration goals without Maryland drivers and vehicle fleets switching to alternative fuels and electric cars. It is time to bring clean air back to Maryland, reduce in-state respiratory disease rates, and get back outside to enjoy our beautiful state without ozone controlling the scene.

bay bridge at sunset