EPA Formally Recognizes Improved Air Quality in Southeast WisconsinAugust 2, 2012
The EPA has announced that air quality for six southeastern Wisconsin counties has improved enough to change the area’s status from nonattainment to attainment. This action formally recognizes that the area has now met the 1997 federal air quality standard for ground-level ozone.
The counties that now meet the 84 parts per billion 1997 standard – Kenosha, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine, Washington and Waukesha – have been in a constant state of nonattainment for federal ozone standards since 1991 and were part of EPA’s “Milwaukee-Racine Nonattainment Area.”
The DNR submitted a redesignation request on September 11, 2009, and supplemented the submittal on November 16, 2011. These submittals also requested the redesignation of the Sheboygan area (Sheboygan County) to attainment for the 1997 8-hour ozone NAAQS.
The EPA proposed to approve the redesignation of both areas on February 9, 2012, and provided a 30-day review and comment period. The EPA received comments from the Sierra Club, Midwest Environmental Defense Center, and Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.
The EPA is not taking final action on the Sheboygan redesignation request at this time because preliminary 2012 ozone monitoring data indicate that the area has violated the 1997 standard.
In addition to approving the redesignation of the Milwaukee-Racine area, the EPA is taking several other related actions. The EPA is approving, as a revision to the Wisconsin State Implementation Plan (SIP), the State’s plan for maintaining the 1997 8-hour ozone standard through 2022 in the Milwaukee-Racine area. The EPA is approving the 2005 emissions inventories for the Milwaukee-Racine and Sheboygan areas as meeting the comprehensive emissions inventory requirement of the Clean Air Act. Finally, the EPA finds adequate and is approving the State’s 2015 and 2022 Motor Vehicle Emission Budgets (MVEBs) for the Milwaukee-Racine area.
“The DNR welcomes this action by the EPA. It recognizes the significant improvements in air quality and its associated public health benefits in Wisconsin,” said Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp.
Additional information on Wisconsin ozone designations is available on this Regulatory Watch website.
This post was authored by GLLF staff attorney Emily Kelchen.