Tougher air standards are comingBy Thomas Gnau
A settlement between environmental groups and the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency has local business leaders
wondering: What would the impact of tougher air pollution rules be
A court settlement filed by a coalition of groups this week in
Washington, D.C.’s federal court will force the agency to determine
which areas fail to meet national air standards for ozone by April
2004, according to a statement from the Ohio Environmental Council.
Air quality in every major Ohio city and cities in 38 states will
likely fail to meet the standard, the group said.
“In order to meet these standards, we’ll have to make big
reductions in pollution from sources like power plants and diesel
engines,” Kurt Waltzer, the council’s clean air program coordinator,
said in the statement.
Glen Brand, a Cincinnati-based Sierra Club Midwest regional
representative, called the settlement “a great victory for public
health in Southwest Ohio because we have such a serious air
New standards will force leaders to deal with “poorly planned”
sprawl and development and consider investments in public
transportation, Brand said.
But David Daugherty, president of Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of
Commerce, which represents businesses in Middletown, Monroe and
Trenton, is casting a wary eye on the news. Daugherty used to work
in the Youngstown area, where he said stringent environmental
regulations, among other factors, caused the closure of many mills.
Daugherty said today there is “no smoke” in the Youngstown-Warren
area in northeastern Ohio.
“Guess what?” he said. “There are no jobs. Crime is going through
He called the Youngstown area “beyond depressed,” noting
double-digit unemployment rates.
He acknowledged that 20 years ago there were some areas of the
country so troubled environmentally, he had no desire to live there.
But he seeks balance between unfettered entrepreneurism and
New air rules, he said, “could have a significant impact on the
ability of businesses to expand and grow in this area.”
It’s too soon to know how new rules might affect AK Steel Corp.’s
Middletown Works, said Alan McCoy, AK’s vice president of public
affairs. AK is the largest employer in Middletown and Butler and
“There are no rules issued, no guidance at this point,” he said.
But he also said that AK already has done much to reduce
chemicals that cause ozone. And he said Middletown Works accounts
for perhaps “two-tenths of one percent” of the chemicals that lead
to ozone locally.
“Cars and trucks are by far the largest single” contributor, he
McCoy added: “When the sale of barbecue grills and barbecue sauce
are outlawed, we’ll have the Sierra Club to thank.”
“That’s ridiculous,” Brand said. He said local governments decide
how to meet standards and they can choose from several options,
including tax credits for alternative-fuel vehicles.