Unifour Air Quality Committee
The Unifour Air Quality Committee (UAQC) is made up of stakeholders from the private and public sector that are dedicated to improving the air quality in the Unifour area. The Unifour Air Quality Oversight Committee (UAQOC) members are comprised of ten elected officials from the Unifour (Alexander County, Town of Taylorsville, Burke County, City of Morganton, Caldwell County, City of Lenoir, Catawba County, City of Conover, City of Hickory, and City of Newton). The UAQOC was formed to make policy and financial decisions for regional air quality activities. Staff support for the UAQC and UAQOC is provided by the Western Piedmont Council of Governments (WPCOG). Funding for the UAQC/UAQOC activities is provided by the Greater Hickory Metropolitan Planning Organization (GHMPO), the Unifour Rural Planning Organization (URPO), and occasional assessments of the 28 local governments in the region (based on population).
History of the UAQC/UAQOC:
In January 1999 the WPCOG learned that Unifour Region’s ozone levels would violate the new EPA 8-Hour Standard. The following spring and summer public meetings were held with local governments, the North Carolina Division of Air Quality (NCDAQ), Economic Development Corporations, Chambers of Commerce and other interested groups. In November 1999 the Catawba Air Quality Committee (CAQC) was formed. During the next four years the CAQC was expanded to include other regional members to form the Unifour Air Quality Coalition. The coalition eventually evolved into more formal Unifour Air Quality Committee (UAQC) and the Unifour Air Quality Oversight Committee (UAQOC) which is made up of stakeholders and elected officials from throughout the region.
UAQC/UAQOC Accomplishments and Commitments:
The UAQC and UAQOC meet monthly and are committed to improving air quality in the region through various strategies. Measures already taken include:
Unifour Early Action Compact (EAC) - In December 2002 the UAQC/UAQOC assisted in an agreement between Federal, State, and Local governments to address ozone pollution in a more expedient manner than what is required in the Clean Air Act through an Early Action Compact (EAC). The Unifour EAC has been recognized by EPA as one of the most successful programs in the United States.
Hiring Technical Consultants - the UAQC/UAQOC gets assistance from consultants to provide guidance and expertise to the committee. For example, the UAQC/UAQOC commissioned a study with the Louis Berger Group to determine the local causes of PM 2.5 in the Unifour Area.
Air Awareness Programs - The North Carolina Air Awareness Program is a public outreach and education program of the North Carolina Division of Air Quality. The goal of the program is to reduce air pollution though voluntary actions by individuals and organizations. For the past decade NCDAQ has supported and collaborated with local Air Awareness Coordinators throughout the state including the Unifour Area. WPCOG staff acts as regional Air Awareness Team members in conjunction with NC DAQ’s Air Awareness Program, providing air quality outreach to the region, including students, teachers and the general public.
Unifour Strategic Air Quality Plan –The WPCOG completed the Air Quality Plan in 2010. The UAQC wanted to build on all of the previous work by having a regional planning document that laid out ongoing strategies to improve air quality.
Presentations - Unifour Air Quality Committee
Final Updates to National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Ozone
UAQC Meeting - November 17, 2015
National Ambient Air Quality Standards for Fine Particulate Matter (PM 2.5) - Final Rule
UAQC Meeting - December 14, 2012