New EPA plan to deal with wandering and in-state air pollution


A plan from the Environmental Protection Agency is proposing tougher pollution standards aimed at reducing smog, but some industrial groups complain the changes will be too costly.

Through the Good Neighbor Plan, introduced in March last year, the EPA would ramp up controls to limit pollution from coal- and gas-fired power plants and, for the first time, regulate certain industries in Wisconsin and 22 other states whose emissions affect air quality in other states. Among those which might be affected — if the plan is approved — are industries like cement makers, glassmakers and paper mills.

Tracey Holloway, an air quality researcher and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said air pollution rules are controversial, in part, because they’re expensive to enforce.

“This idea that we can be downwind from one state and upwind from another state makes it tricky to figure out what is the right way to write a policy. But there’s no question that air pollution does flow from state to state,” she said.

Environmental advocates have praised the plan while industry leaders say Wisconsin should not be held responsible for pollution coming from outside the state. And according to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, much of the smog-producing pollution in counties along the Lake Michigan shoreline, including Kenosha, drifts north from neighboring Chicago and Cook County, Illinois.

John Antaramian, mayor of Kenosha, said the air pollution limits businesses, particularly east of Interstate 94 in Kenosha County. But more importantly, he said, is how it affects people’s quality of life.

Antaramian said the federal government should rethink its approach to managing air quality.

“They need to start focusing more on where the pollution is coming from, not where it’s going,” he said.

Antaramian said Illinois isn’t the only state to blame. Others like Indiana also contribute to air pollution in Wisconsin.

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WPR, 09-03-23