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Indiana seeks to overturn EPA decision on air quality in Lake, Porter counties

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Gov. Mitch Daniels and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said Wednesday they will appeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to designate Lake and Porter counties as nonattainment regarding ozone.

The EPA includes Lake and Porter counties in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area, and Illinois air quality exceeded the ozone standard by less than 1 percent.

Daniels said for the first time in the history of the Clean Air Act, all of Indiana’s counties meet air quality limits, yet the state is “about to be punished by the EPA because Illinois’ air doesn’t.”

“EPA restrictions make it harder to hire people, and we don’t want to lose jobs in Indiana, where the air is clean, just because the air isn’t clean enough in Illinois,” he said.

The state was notified by the EPA earlier this year about the decision to designate the two Indiana counties as nonattainment. A release from the governor’s office says that the air in the counties has met the ozone standard and all other air quality standards since the end of the 2007-2009 measurement period.

The Illinois air monitor in question has been impacted by that state’s exemption of all vehicles produced before 1996 from its vehicle admissions testing program, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management. IDEM claims that had those older vehicles been tested, the air monitor would have met the federal standard.

The petition for judicial review is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

“By arbitrarily lumping us in with Chicago’s dirty air, EPA has wrongly penalized northwest Indiana even though Lake and Porter counties are within the proper ozone levels and the federal nonattainment designation would do nothing to improve air quality in the two counties. The state will ask the federal appeals court to stay this EPA action before the burdensome new nonattainment permit requirements force local companies to move their expansion projects elsewhere due to cost,” Zoeller said.

 

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