Community-Based Planning Process
In July of 2010, the States of Nebraska and Iowa, the Metropolitan Area Planning Agency (MAPA), and the U.S. EPA entered into an agreement to participate in a unique effort to reduce emissions of ozone precursors in the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area.
This process was begun with the idea that voluntary actions that reduce ozone-precursor emissions are vastly preferable to regulated requirements that must be put in place if an area goes into a non-attainment designation. The effort involves the participation of government agencies – including the City of Omaha, utilities, private industry, community groups, citizens, and other interested stakeholders from the eight county Omaha-Council Bluffs ozone region.
Through a series of public meetings, alongside a committee of regulatory agencies providing technical assistance, the ozone steering committee has explored strategies for reducing emissions of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) – the precursors of ozone – in the Omaha area.
The process is currently focused on strategies for both individual businesses and industrial sectors to reduce their emissions. For individual businesses, such strategies include utilizing energy efficient office equipment and lighting, switching to low-VOC cleaners, and promoting telecommuting and web-conferencing instead of face-to-face meetings requiring travel. Strategies for industrial sectors vary depending on the industrial process, but common strategies across sectors may include using low-VOC containing materials and improving energy efficiencies.
As various strategies are identified, targeted outreach to metro area industries will begin, as partner industries and trade associations reach out to their metro area peers to share pollution prevention and reduction ideas. A pilot outreach program to the metro area printing industry is currently underway, with a workshop held on March 13, 2012. Check the News page on this site for more information on this and future workshops as it becomes available.
A major component of this process is the public education outreach campaign, “Little Steps, Big Impact”. Begun in the fall of 2010, the campaign seeks to inform residents of the Omaha-Council Bluffs Metro Area about ozone, what health risks it poses, and what we as individuals can all do to limit our contribution to ozone in the metro area. To view more information, go to www.littlestepsbigimpact.com.