Folks in Porter and Lake county are breathing cleaner air than they have in
years, both counties have now officially reached attainment status, but
motorists will still be required to have their vehicles emission-tested.
On Monday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its
formal recognition that the air quality in Lake and Porter counties meets
the federal health-based standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5), after
the State of Indiana succeeded in demonstrating that the two counties have
met the 1997 annual PM2.5 standard since the end of 2007.
“We’re pleased that U.S. EPA has finally recognized that Lake and Porter
counties meet the standards,” said Indiana Department of Environmental
Management Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “Despite being tied to Illinois as
a part of the Chicagoland area, Hoosiers in Northwest Indiana have been
breathing clean air for four years. Now the citizens and businesses there
can enjoy the benefits of what they accomplished years ago.”
“As we are charged with bringing quality jobs and capital investment to
Northwest Indiana in harmony with the environment, this announcement is yet
another positive reason for companies to look at locating in our area,” said
Mark Maassel, president and CEO of the Northwest Indiana Forum. “It’s a
wonderful reflection of our region’s ongoing efforts to improve and protect
air quality, even as we add jobs.”
EPA designated that 12 Indiana counties and five townships did not meet the
annual PM2.5 standard in 2005. Indiana’s air quality has improved since that
time, and IDEM demonstrated to EPA that air quality meets that standard in
all areas of the state. Five counties and four townships have been
officially redesignated to attainment status. EPA is expected to redesignate
the remaining seven counties and one township to attainment status in the
Additional PM2.5 data and information about Indiana’s air quality can be
found at www.idem.IN.gov/4654.htm
Vehicle emission-testing, however, will continue, IDEM spokesman Rob Elstro
told the Chesterton Tribune today. In fact, he said, a main reason
for Porter and Lake’s achievement of attainment status is emission
“The No. 1 cause of ozone and fine particles is vehicles,” Elstro noted.
“When an area has controls put in place to meet air-quality requirements,
they generally stay in place if they’re shown to be effective.”
Elstro did add that emission-testing requirements implemented in Clark and
Floyd counties were subsequently discontinued “because they were not
specifically beneficial to the area.”
In Porter and Lake counties, those requirements are beneficial, Elstro said.
There are two concrete benefits to attainment status, Elstro observed. The
first is related to economic development: a firm wishing to locate a
facility in Porter and Lake county may “no longer have to meet certain
requirements,” Elstro said.
The second is
related to health: “People in Lake and Porter counties have been breathing
clean air for almost five years,” Elstro concluded.