Air commission excludes Cape Girardeau, includes Perry County in ozone regulations

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Cape Girardeau County was excluded Tuesday from the list of Missouri counties with ozone pollution bad enough to require new regulations.

The Missouri Air Conservation Commission, meeting in Jefferson City, accepted the recommendations of the Department of Natural Resources's Air Pollution Control Program that Cape Girardeau County be listed as "unclassifiable" for ozone pollution.

Perry County, which has a air quality monitor at Farrar, was named as "nonattainment," as was Ste. Genevieve County, where there is also an air monitor.

The decision, which must be ratified by the federal Environmental Protection Agency, will become final by June 2010 unless additional work is required by the EPA, said Jeff Bennett, air quality modeling chief with the Air Pollution Control Program.

The state will draft a rehabilitation plan for Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties that will direct the steps needed to make the air cleaner, Bennett said. It is too early to say what those steps will be.

St. Louis and Kansas City will continue as nonattainment areas, and new regulations must also be crafted for those areas of the state, Bennett said. "We don't know what is going to happen in Perry County, we don't know what is going to happen in St. Louis. Existing controls will stay in place."

The Cape Girardeau Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors met Tuesday as well and agreed to form a regional group dedicated to crafting local solutions, said John Mehner, president and CEO of the chamber. The group will use the structures of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission as a basis for developing ideas, Mehner said.

"It is going to look at voluntary things we can do within our region," he said.

For more information, check back at semissourian.com or read Wednesday's Southeast Missourian.

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