EPA Rejects Appeals, Finds Shelby, Knox and Blount Counties Violating Air Quality Standards

Rejecting appeals by state officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has ruled that three Memphis-area counties, as well as three others in East Tennessee, violate federal air-quality standards for ozone pollution, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The decision, issued late Tuesday, means that Shelby, Crittenden (in Arkansas) and part of DeSoto county (in Mississipp) will remain classified as “non-attainment” for ozone standards – a designation that officials say makes it more difficult to attract industry. Anderson, Blount and Knox counties also retain the designation.
Tennessee and Mississippi had filed petitions appealing EPA’s initial decision earlier this year classifying the counties as non-attainment. The appeals cited data showing improvement in local air quality, particularly during a three-year period ending in 2011 during which all Shelby County air monitors met federal ozone standards.
State and local officials had sought to escape the non-attainment classification because of its potentially chilling effect on economic development. New or expanding industries generally are held to stricter pollution-control requirements in non-attainment areas.

And this from the AP:
Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Bob Martineau said Wednesday that the federal agency chose the “most burdensome of several options” in dealing with air pollution in the counties.
“It’s important to note that while EPA’s decision will have long-term negative economic impacts for Tennessee, this decision does nothing to improve air quality,” Martineau said.

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