Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Report: Jacksonville Sees Sizable Decline In Air Pollution Over Past Decade

Jacksonville's Downtown skyline
Bill Bortzfield
WJCT News file photo
Jacksonville's Downtown skyline

While a haze of pollution can be seen every once and a while in Jacksonville, a new study finds that the city has made significant progress in cleaning up its air.

An analysis of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Air Quality Index (AQI) shows the Jacksonville metro area's 10-year median air quality improved by 18%.

Between 2015 and 2019 Jacksonville averaged 267 "good" AQI days per year, compared to 177 days per year between 2005 and 2009.

The analysis of the EPA numbers was done by Filter Buy, an air filters seller.

On a nationwide level, air pollutants have dropped by more than 70% since 1970. A myriad of reasons are behind the improvement, including the introduction of catalytic converters in automobiles, less reliance on coal and tougher emissions standards set by the EPA.

Jacksonville’s public utility, JEA, has also been moving toward cleaner energy.  

JEA filed site plans Sept. 22 for a 50-megawatt solar farm in West Jacksonville, according to WJCT News partner the Jacksonville Daily Record.

JEA spokesman Greg Corcoran told the Record when JEA’s portfolio of solar projects is completed, solar will generate enough electricity during the summer months to power approximately one-third of the city’s energy needs.

JEA has also approved a plan to close one unit at the coal-fired Scherer Power Plant in Georgia, which is one of the single largest point sources of carbon emissions in the country.

The utility also closed and imploded its St. Johns River Power Park coal plant near the Dames Point Bridge in 2018 and 2019.">

JEA will further reduce its carbon footprint when nuclear Plant Vogtle Units 3 and 4 come online in Georgia as part of JEA’s purchase agreement with MEAG Power.

Still, at the state and national level, natural gas, a fossil fuel that contributes to climate change, makes up the biggest source of America’s power supply,  according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Credit U.S. Department of Energy

Transitioning to all electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid vehicles contributes to a reduction in pollution as compared to gasoline vehicles. (Here's the DOE’s methodology for measuring the emissions of different types of vehicles.)

But on a worldwide level, electric vehicle sales will reach just 3% of all vehicle sales by the close of this year, according to S&P Global, a financial information and analytics company, based on an estimate by the International Energy Agency.

In the U.S., states with the sharpest declines in air pollutant emissions (excluding wildfires) within the last decade are largely concentrated in the South, Northeast, Great Lakes, and West Coast, according to Filter Buy's analysis of the EPA data.

Bill Bortzfield can be reached at or on Twitter at @BortzInJax.

Bill joined WJCT News in September of 2017 from The Florida Times-Union, where he served in a variety of multimedia journalism positions.