State weighs lawsuit over ozone designation
By Maria Amante firstname.lastname@example.org/648-3072 June 14, 2012 6:56PM
Updated: July 16, 2012 6:39AM
The state is considering whether to sue the Environmental Protection Agency after it deemed the federal agency’s classification of Indiana’s air quality “unfair.”
The EPA said ozone levels in Lake and Porter counties were not within its standard level of 75 parts per billion. The designation came because the EPA classifies Lake and Porter counties as part of the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes parts of Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin.
Most of the area was technically within the EPA’s standard, but a violation in Zion, Ill., classified the entire region within nonattainment status, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.
“The possibility of legal action is on the table and we are considering all of our options,” IDEM spokesman Rob Elstro said. “We’re continuing to work with (the EPA). We’re also having meetings over the phone.”
IDEM previously declared the EPA’s action as “unfair” to Indiana residents, and Elstro said IDEM believes Indiana counties should not be considered as part of the statistical region.
Nothing more will be required of Indiana or its residents beyond filling out some paperwork due to this designation, but Elstro said nonattainment status raises economic concerns.
“There are additional requirements for businesses (that relocate or start operations in nonattainment areas),” he said. “It might be a deterrent for people to move there if it’s seen as an area with poor air quality.”
Removal from the statistical region would most likely group Lake and Porter counties with other Indiana counties, which have met EPA ozone regulations.
“The entire state met all the standards in 2009,” Elstro said.