[StBernard] Tighter smog standards could mean trouble for 28 parishes

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Wed Mar 12 17:34:56 EDT 2008

Tighter smog standards could mean trouble for 28 parishes
3/12/2008, 4:01 p.m. CDT
The Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tighter anti-smog standards could add as many as 23
parishes to the five now failing to meet federal pollution limits, the state
Department of Environmental Quality said Wednesday.

That could not only eliminate a major argument against requiring cleaner but
more expensive gasoline at stations in Baton Rouge and four neighboring
parishes, but could increase the cost of living in and rebuilding areas
recovering from the hurricanes of 2005.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which announced last year that it
might reduce the amount of ozone permitted from 80 parts per billion to 70
or 75, was expected to announce Wednesday whether it will do so.

Many scientists and doctors say the limit would have to be stricter than
that to protect the health of people with asthma and other breathing

DEQ spokesman Rodney Mallett said he was told Tuesday that 75 parts per
billion was more likely than 70 - and on Wednesday learned a figure as high
as 79 might be possible.

East Baton Rouge and four nearby parishes - West Baton Rouge, Livingston,
Ascension and Iberville - don't meet current standards. Fifteen other
parishes have come into compliance with those standards since 1978.

A limit of 75 parts per billion would put most of them out of compliance
again, adding several more for a total of 21. Ouachita and Union parishes
would pass at 75 parts per billion, but not at 70, Mallett said.

Most southeast Louisiana parishes either have ozone levels at or above 75
parts per billion or would be counted as doing so because they are in a
metro area where monitors show ozone levels that high, Mallett said.

That's also true in Lafourche, Terrebonne, Lafayette, St. Martin, Calcasieu,
Cameron, Caddo, Bossier and DeSoto parishes, according to DEQ.

>From Pointe Coupee Parish east and south, the only parishes that would pass

a 75 parts per billion standard would be Washington, Tangipahoa, Assumption,
St. Mary and Iberia.

Mallett said his staff was working on a list of parishes that would meet and
fail a 79 parts per billion standard.

Baton Rouge area industries currently have stricter air pollution limits
than those in the rest of the state. In addition, vehicle inspections
include checks on emissions, increasing the cost to residents, and gas
stations must take specific steps to minimize leaks from the pumps and to
return gasoline vapors to a truck when the station's tanks are filled.

Businesses and governments in that area sued to keep from having to switch
to reformulated gas, which is generally more expensive than regular grades.

Mallett said EPA agreed in 2004 to consider whether state analysts were
correct in predicting that, because the five-parish area is so small,
drivers would be likely to drive to nearby parishes for less expensive gas,
increasing pollution rather than reducing it.

That might change if four more Baton Rouge-area parishes, St. James Parish
and metro New Orleans were added to those violating new standards.

"I'm sure that is something the EPA will look at before requiring it or
letting any out of using it," Mallett said.

C 2008 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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