In the past, the area, which is considered a part of the Huntington, W.Va., Ashland, Ky., area, was designated as a non-attainment area, meaning the readings showed the air had an unacceptably high level of particulate matter. However, according to the Ohio EPA, that has changed over the last three years.
Air quality data from 2008-2010 shows the Huntington-Ashland area, including Scioto and the other involved counties in the region, is meeting the 1997 national fine particulate matter standard.
Mary McCarron, public information officer for Ohio EPA, said when asking for redesignation, states are required to demonstrate that the metropolitan area will be able to maintain compliance with the fine particulate standard for 10 years.
McCarron opened the floor for comments from local citizens, and Robert Walton of Southern Ohio Port Authority was the first to speak.
Walton asked some questions in which McCarron responded with a promise to get back with him with the answers.
Walton asked what affect it would have on southern Ohio’s request for redesignation if West Virginia and Kentucky do not apply. Walton added that Scioto County itself has been in attainment for several years, but was placed
in non-attainment status because of Huntington
“We had made a request, the (Scioto) County Commissioners and the (Southern Ohio) Port Authority, and others locally, two-and-a-half years ago, that Ohio EPA request U.S. EPA redesignate us because we did have three years’ data that we did meet attainment standards,” Walton said. “But I am pleased and very, very happy to be sitting here today seeing presumably that the entire metropolitan area has now met the standards.”
Barbara Lund of Save our Shawnee Forest opposed the re-designation, telling the Ohio EPA that although the air quality was better, “less bad is no good.”
Scott Evans, legislative aide to State Rep. Dr. Terry Johnson, read a letter Johnson had written to Ohio EPA Director Scott J. Nally. Johnson indicated in the letter that he is in support of the redesignation of attainment status for the southern Ohio counties involved.
“The air quality data from 2008-2010 shows that the area has successfully met the 1997 National Fine Particulate Matter standards for over three years,” Johnson wrote. “This area has been below the national standard over this entire three-year period by a substantial margin. As a result I wholeheartedly support your initiative to ask
the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to redesignate the area to reflect full compliance with the standard.”
In his correspondence, Johnson said the redesignation of the area as attainment is vital to the local economy and would allow industry to locate in southern Ohio without the need to obtain air quality offsets.
At the core of the issue is the possible expansion of Sun Coke in the Haverhill area. With the current non-attainment status, they would need to purchase air credits. However, a change to attainment would remove that requirement.
Heidi Griesmer of the public information office of the Ohio EPA recently said, “The latest three-year average we have for that area is 11.6 micrograms per cubic meter. The standard is
15 micrograms per cubic meter. That’s why we can ask for U.S. EPA to redesignate the area. We have three years of data showing that we are meeting the standard.”
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101,
ext. 232, or email@example.com.