Press release from IDEM, dated April 30, 2010:
Air quality in all 92 Indiana counties meets national standards for first time in state history
(GARY, Indiana – April 30, 2010) – Governor Mitch Daniels today announced that air quality in all 92 Indiana counties in 2009 met all applicable federal air quality standards, the first time this has been achieved since the passage of the 1970 Clean Air Act. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has designated that Lake and Porter counties and Lawrenceburg Township in Dearborn County, the last three areas in Indiana that were in “nonattainment,” have been designated as “attainment” with the 1997 8-hour health-based ozone standard.
“EPA congratulates Indiana on the significant progress it has made to bring the entire state into attainment with the health-based ozone standard,” said U.S. EPA Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur. “By putting in place effective control measures, Indiana has helped ensure that its residents breathe cleaner air.”
Daniels praised the work of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) over the past five years when he made the announcement at a Gary Chamber of Commerce luncheon event.
“Wiping out a huge backlog of out-of-date, expired air permits means that more than 400 companies now have permits with far tighter air quality standards,” said Daniels. “Today is an historical first, and a major milestone. But this is a limbo contest; each time we get under the bar, we know that soon we’ll be aiming for one that’s even lower.”
In 2004, 23 counties and one township in Indiana were designated as “nonattainment” and did not meet the 8-hour ozone standard set by U.S. EPA. All 92 counties, including the areas redesignated today, measured air quality that met the 1997 8-hour ozone standard by the close of 2008.
Additional permitting restrictions are required in nonattainment areas, making it difficult for businesses to expand or open new facilities. Air permits in attainment areas do not allow activities that might push the area over those standards.
“U.S. EPA’s recognition of Indiana’s air quality means a better quality of life for Hoosiers,” said IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly. “We should be proud of our achievements, but we need to continue taking steps every day to reduce air emissions.”
Some emission-control requirements, such as the Clean Air Car Check program and reformulated fuels, will continue in Lake and Porter counties to preserve air quality improvements.
Indiana’s air quality has steadily improved over recent years as state and federal programs reduced emissions from vehicles and industries. IDEM expects ozone levels to continue their downward trend as new programs currently in place are implemented.
The U.S. EPA redesignation for air quality improvements in Lake County, Porter County, and Lawrenceburg Township in Dearborn County will become effective upon publication in the Federal Register.
IDEM implements federal and state regulations regarding the environment. Through compliance assistance, incentive programs and educational outreach, the agency encourages and aids businesses and citizens in protecting Hoosiers and our environment. Â www.idem.in.gov