Chesterton Tribune

EPA: Porter, Lake counties meet air quality standard

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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 coming months.

Additional PM2.5 data and information about Indiana’s air quality can be found at www.idem.IN.gov/4654.htm

Emission Testing

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 testing.

“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.

 

Posted 2/7/2012