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EPA says local agencies have OK to implement plans
Christina Connally continues her look at local air quality in Part 2 of a three part series


Aerosols, smoke, fumes, dust, ash and pollen; it all adds up to a big problem in East Tennessee.

The Knoxville Department of Air Quality Management is waiting for the Environmental Protection Agency to provide a document of general regulations before implementing a plan to bring Knoxville into attainment for Particulate Matter 2.5, said Steve McDaniel, environmental program manager for the department.

EPA representatives disagree with the wait, stating Knoxville can start taking action now to cut down on emissions that influence PM2.5.

“We have told our counterparts in the states there’s nothing in this rule [general regulations] that should slow them down from cutting pollution locally,” said John Millet, spokesperson for the EPA. “We’re trying to get that message out, don’t wait for this rule.”

There are actions that can be taken to reduce emissions of PM2.5, said Steve Smith, executive director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

“The primary sources are diesel, sulphate, emissions from coal fired power plants, and then there are a whole slew of other sources like open burning,” Smith said.

Before taking action to decrease PM2.5, Knoxville government wants to have regulations and standards from the EPA.

These regulations should have been available one year ago, McDaniel said.

“ [EPA] designates an area for non-attainment and then they have to come back and publish a document that says these are the things we think you can implement to lower the concentration in the ambient air to meet the standard,” McDaniel said. “The problem is it’s not really clear where the particulate matter is coming from.”

The EPA declared Knoxville as being out of attainment for PM2.5 in December 2004, and Knoxville is currently not in attainment, Millet said.

Tennessee is ultimately responsible for piecing a plan together that would bring Knoxville into attainment, Millet said.

“The Knoxville area based on projections now will still not attain the PM2.5 standard by 2015, based on all existing clean air programs.”

 

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