Business alliance urging EPA to lift stricter emissions for county

By Cara Spoto - Freeman Staff

Feb. 6, 2018

WAUKESHA COUNTY — The Waukesha County Business Alliance has sent a letter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency urging the department to remove Racine, Waukesha and Washington counties from an ozone non-attainment area that it says would unfairly halt economic growth in the region.

The communique follows news that the EPA intends to designate the entirety of Waukesha County, as well as the entirety of Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Racine and Washington counties as non-attainment areas. With its letter the WCBA is joining a chorus of other business groups in southeastern Wisconsin who say the stricter emissions standards that will follow the designation will hurt manufacturing.

As required by the Clean Air Act, the EPA will designate an area as non-attainment if there are certified, quality-assured air quality monitoring data showing a violation of the 2015 ozone standards, or if the EPA makes a determination that the area is contributing to a violation of the standards in a nearby area, EPA’s Acting Regional Administrator Robert Kaplan stated in a December letter to Gov. Scott Walker.

In her comments, WCBA President & CEO Suzanne Kelley expresses dismay that the agency has chosen to punish the larger region for excess ozone levels that exist primarily along the Lake Michigan shoreline.

“Waukesha’s monitor has consistently measured ozone concentrations well below the 2015 ozone (National Ambient Air Quality Standards). (The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s) April 2017 supplemental submittal further documented that excess ozone levels in the region extended no further than 2.9 miles inland from the shore of Lake Michigan,” Kelley states in the letter. “Neither of these facts are particularly remarkable or controversial. What is surprising is that the EPA ignored these recommendations and has proposed that Waukesha County be designated nonattainment. The EPA’s proposal is contrary to a well-established consensus that ozone in eastern Wisconsin is confined to the shoreline and is caused by out-of-state sources.”

When asked about the issue on Monday, Waukesha Mayor Shawn Reilly said he has also sent a letter to the EPA expressing his opposition to the non-attainment designation.

“There is no testing that shows that the city of Waukesha or Waukesha County exceeds ozone levels,” Reilly said. “There are one or two (areas) in Milwaukee County (that are at non-attainment levels) and they just lumped five counties all together, and said ’you are in the nonattainment zone.’ Up in Fond du Lac County they actually carved out a little piece a long the beach and said that is a non-attainment zone.”