What's News in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin

Air Quality Monitoring
Village Working With City and County To Address EPA Air Quality Designation

Acting under the Clean Air Act, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has established air quality standards to protect public health and the environment. The EPA tracks levels of specific pollutants on an ongoing basis with numerous monitoring sites across the country. An air quality monitoring site for Kenosha County is located in the Chiwaukee Prairie very near to the Lake Michigan shoreline.

Though the most recently certified air quality measurements for the Chiwaukee Prairie monitoring station are in compliance with the 2008 ozone standards, the standards have become (and will continue to become) more stringent, in efforts to improve air quality in the public’s interest. With the more stringent standards, recent data collected at a Zion, Illinois monitoring site indicates ground-level ozone along the lakeshore that exceeds the current EPA standards.

Officials believe that the poor air quality in Kenosha County is limited to less than one mile from the shoreline. Officials also believe and emissions data suggests that the source is located farther south and that pollution is carried up the shoreline on winds coming from the south. Past data collected at alternative sites within the county suggest that air samples farther from the lake would likely be in compliance with EPA clean air standards.

Recently, the EPA indicated their intent to designate Kenosha County as part of the Chicago Combined Statistical Area (Chicago CSA) nonattainment area for the 2008 ozone standard. This designation reverses an EPA decision made two months prior to designate Kenosha County as an attainment area. An area is designated as a nonattainment area if it does not meet air quality standards or if it contributes to poor air quality in a nearby area. If an area is designated by the EPA as a nonattainment area, businesses locating there must overcome additional regulatory requirements, making economic development more challenging.

The Village together with the City and County are working with the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) and the EPA to address the situation. On Monday, April 16, the Pleasant Prairie Village Board passed a resolution requesting assistance from the Governor (the State must make a recommendation to the EPA on behalf of local governments) to address this problem. The Village Board is requesting that the DNR and EPA determine the best area to install a second air quality monitoring site within the county to better determine how far the ground-level ozone travels inland and to determine if there are other sources within the county that are generating air quality issues.

Village President John Steinbrink commented, “We know that there is an air quality problem along our lakeshore. We would like to gain a better understanding of how far towards the west this problem exists and if we are currently doing anything in our own communities that might be contributing to the problem. This way, if we are contributing to the problem, we can begin to address it. However, if it’s determined that the air quality problems are caused by circumstances in the Chicago area, we do not want to be held responsible for a problem we didn’t create and have no power to correct.”

The presence of a second monitoring site would also provide baseline readings for air quality in the County. “A second monitoring site would help us understand where our air quality levels are now and would become a useful tool in making certain that our air stays clean,” added Steinbrink. “Establishing a baseline now will help us as we go forward.” The Village has also requested that only the portion of the county determined to have an air quality problem be placed into a nonattainment area within the Chicago CSA. This would continue to hold Chicago responsible for correcting their air quality problem while allowing the areas of Kenosha County that are not experiencing or causing air quality problems to continue to attract clean, quality development. The EPA is expected to make their decision near the end of May. To learn more about the EPA’s measures to protect air quality, please click here.

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