Ground-level ozone is running so high in Lucas and Wood counties that metro Toledo may be declared unfit for more industrial expansion without tougher U.S. Environmental Protection Agency restrictions. That would stymie efforts to bring more high-paying jobs to this economically distressed region.
Toledo is not alone. It is one of dozens of cities that struggle to keep ground- level ozone, the pollutant chiefly responsible for smog, under control.
Toledo's Division of Environmental Services has reported unhealthy ground-level ozone on multiple occasions since May 19. Now, six weeks into summer, Toledo's compliance status is in jeopardy.
To avoid falling back into a more costly nonattainment status, area residents and businesses need to operate as efficiently as they can. Green-building initiatives, one of the few areas where meaningful reductions can be achieved, need to be promoted. Discussions are under way with area grocery stores, car dealerships, and other businesses that use a lot of lighting and refrigeration.
Toledo and other communities have been engaged in an ongoing public-relations campaign to encourage more energy efficiency. Officials are talking about offering replacement gasoline cans to get old, leaky ones turned in. There's even talk about an incentive program to get old lawn mowers replaced. But voluntary measures only go so far.
The federal government is required to consider tougher national ozone thresholds at least once every five years. The EPA has in mind a threshold it claims will avert thousands of premature deaths and at least 1.5 million missed work or school days nationally.
Energy inefficiency hurts Toledo and other metro areas. The best way for this region to expand its industrial base is to promote more energy savings among its populace and its business sector.