Emerson to discuss ozone readings with regional economic development commission

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The issue of whether Perry and Ste. Genevieve counties will be put under stricter air pollution rules will be discussed today when U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson meets with members of the Southeast Missouri Regional Planning and Economic Development Commission.

The meeting, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the commission's offices at 1 W. St. Joseph St. in Perryville, Mo., will be a discussion of the ozone nonattainment designations for the two counties. The Missouri Air Conservation Commission in February recommended the nonattainment designation for Perry County based on higher-than-allowed ozone readings at a monitor near Farrar, Mo.

Ozone pollution is caused when sunlight interacts with nitrogen oxides and volatile organic chemicals. The resulting haze is commonly known as smog. Ozone builds to higher levels during the hot, stagnant days of summer.

"This is an important issue for our country and our economy," Emerson, a Cape Girardeau Republican, said in a news release. "We need to be sure Perry County and others in a similar situation are treated fairly under the rules and not penalized for having major roadways with pollution from through traffic."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency will rule on the state recommendations later this year or in 2010. The federal standard for ozone pollution is that it should not exceed a reading of 75 parts per billion, measured as a three-year average of the fourth-highest eight-hour readings from an air monitor.

When the air conservation commission ruled in February, that average for the Farrar monitor was 77 parts per billion based on the readings since 2006. So far this year, said Terry Rowles, environmental specialist with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, the fourth highest average reading is 71 parts per billion, which is low enough to bring the three-year average into compliance at 74 parts per billion.

The data must be checked for accuracy, Rowles said, but if no adjustments are made Perry County could avoid being designated as a nonattainment area.

"But the thing to remember is we are not through the ozone season and it could go higher," he said.

rkeller@semissourian.com

388-3642

Pertinent addresses:

1 W. St. Joseph St., Perryville, Mo.

Farrar, Mo.

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