PORTLAND (AP) – Towns and cities in eight southern and coastal counties are designated as having unhealthful levels of smog under new federal ozone standards issued Thursday.

A total of 108 municipalities from Kittery to Gouldsboro failed to comply with the stricter rules that are the nation’s new gauge for measuring ozone.

The new Environmental Protection Agency rules give states three years to develop plans to reduce ground-level ozone, or smog, in the areas that don’t comply. The EPA says measures could include tougher vehicle inspection programs, restrictions on transportation or new controls on industrial plants.

The state Department of Environmental Protection last year recommended to the EPA which towns should be classified as noncomplying. The findings were based on results of air quality monitoring data collected between 2001 and 2003.

Jim Brooks, director of the DEP’s air quality bureau, said his department is considering rules for gasoline cans, coatings, paints and other products that release vapors that cause ozone. He said other new rules, such as those mandating cleaner marine engines and all-terrain vehicles, should also help cut down smog in Maine in the years ahead.

“We’ll look over the rules and we’ll develop a strategy,” Brooks said. “I feel confident that over the next three to six years a large part of the eastern United States can come into attainment, but I can’t guarantee it.”

The EPA’s new Clean Air Rules are a set of measures designed to reduce smog and haze across the country. On Thursday, the EPA released the places that fail to comply with the new ozone standards and therefore must reduce emissions of ozone-causing pollution.

The new standards reduce the amount of allowable ozone in the air from 120 parts per billion to 85 parts per billion.

Nationwide, all or part of 474 counties, mostly in the eastern third of the country and California, do not meet the new standards. Some 159 million people live in the affected areas, and 18 states had no areas that failed to meet the standards.

In Maine, 21 municipalities in York County, 22 in Cumberland County and all 10 in Sagadahoc were out of compliance. Sixteen towns in Lincoln County, 16 in Knox and 21 in Hancock also failed to meet the standards. Androscoggin and Waldo counties each had one town on the list – Durham and Islesboro.

Under the rules, Maine has to meet the new ozone standards by June 2007 in York, Cumberland, Sagadahoc and Androscoggin counties, and by June 2009 in Hancock, Knox, Lincoln and Waldo counties.

Norman Anderson, an environmental health scientist at the American Lung Association of Maine, said he isn’t convinced the new ozone standards will cut pollution.

He said the Bush administration has weakened other pollution regulations, and thinks a regional approach would be most effective way to deal with smog.

“I think what we need to keep in mind is we’ve had chronic air pollution problems in Maine for 30 years,” he said. “And it doesn’t seem to be getting any better.”

Matthew Davis, an advocate with Environment Maine advocacy group, said the rules are “smoke and mirrors.” He said they will do little to offset other Bush administration moves that have weakened the Clean Air Act.

“Will there be decreases in our air pollution? Maybe,” he said. “Will they be enough to protect our health and environment? I’d say no.”


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