NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 13, 2005

Last year, the Environmental Protection Agency designated 225 counties in 20 states as failing to meet new, more stringent standards regarding airborne particles. But many counties have complained that the EPA's designations are erroneous and unfair, says the Heartland Institute.

The 225 counties targeted by the EPA must submit a compliance implementation plan by 2008 and meet the new standards by 2010, or risk losing federal highway money:

  • Local officials argue that the EPA?s reading stations that measure air quality are placed in locations that are not representative of the local air quality.
  • Furthermore, they argue that "downwind" counties are getting bad air quality readings as a result of pollution from neighboring "upwind" counties.

Indeed, several counties have sent objection letters to the EPA or filed federal lawsuits:

  • A lawsuit filed on behalf of several counties in southwest Indiana alleges that a power plant in bordering Kentucky county is sending soot across the Ohio River; the EPA withdrew the designation of two counties.
  • Oakland County, Mich., sent a letter to the EPA objecting to the designation of several counties as violating air quality standards, asserting that these counties were being lumped in with neighboring Wayne County.
  • Two South Carolina counties filed a federal lawsuit, alleging that the placement of one of the air pollution monitors distorts the air quality status, since three other monitors in the area indicate acceptable air quality.

County officials argue that compliance mandates will affect economic growth in their counties, since businesses will more likely locate to areas where costly abatement programs are not needed.

Source: James Hoare, "States Battle EPA Over Clean Air Designations," Heartland Institute, May 1, 2005.


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