You might have heard that the EPA is considering toughening up ozone limits, but isn't our air getting cleaner?
Based on current EPA standards, Wisconsin 's ozone (smog) levels have, in fact, been getting better in the past decade. Al Shea, Administrator for the EPA's division of air and waste management, says that's due to regulations, vehicle inspections and reformulated gasoline.
"Those things have paid off in terms of lowering ozone to the point where in '04, '05 and '06 we were below the current threshold."
However, despite successful efforts to clean the air, Governor Jim Doyle's request for redesignation to ozone attainment for some counties in southeastern Wisconsin might not happen, because the EPA wants to stiffen the standards by as much as 17%. Shea says as experts learn more about the health impacts, they need to adjust the measurements. These stricter standards could impact previously "clean" counties.
Again, while our air quality is getting better, motorists and businesses might soon have more rigid rules because of the proposed higher ozone standards. That could mean significant expense for businesses, but Shea says it's too soon to conclude that there will be any particular impact to Wisconsin or its businesses. He says there is yet to be a lot of debate on the issue. A final decision from the feds isn't expected before March of next year.