Chesterton Tribune

Indiana to appeal EPA ruling on Lake and Porter air

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Indiana officials say they will appeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to find Lake and Porter counties out of compliance with air quality standards because of their location near Chicago.

Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels and Attorney General Greg Zoeller say every Indiana county meets the standards under the Clean Air Act for the first time but that Lake and Porter are being punished because one monitoring station in Illinois fell short.

The two Indiana counties are included with Cook County in Illinois and Kenosha County in Wisconsin in the Chicago metropolitan area's monitoring zone.

"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," Zoeller said in a statement Thursday.

The EPA notified Indiana earlier this year that air quality data submitted by Illinois showed one monitor exceeded the ozone standard by less than 1 percent. The agency said it would list Lake and Porter counties as not meeting the standard because they are in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area.

The action takes effect Friday.

Failure to meet the standards means businesses must take steps to reduce ozone produced by their operations. It also forces the state to take other actions to limit ozone emissions, including monitoring vehicle exhaust at Clean Air Car Check stations, The Times in Munster reported.

Indiana officials say the EPA can designate portions of a statistical area as being in compliance even if other parts of that area don't meet the standard. Daniels said clean-air regions have been carved out in Columbus, Ohio, and Knoxville, Tenn.

"There's no excuse for discrimination against Indiana in this case," Daniels said.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management says Lake and Porter counties have met the ozone standard and all other air quality standards since the end of the 2007-2009 measurement period.

A spokeswoman for the EPA in Chicago had no immediate comment.


Posted 7/19/2012