Maryville Daily Times: EPA commits to quick review of Blount's clean air attainment application

Posted on May 1, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., received a commitment from Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to quickly review applications for clean air attainment for three East Tennessee counties, Blount, Anderson and Knox, according to a release.

“Last November, the state of Tennessee on behalf of three Tennessee counties, Anderson, Blount and Knox, applied for Clean Air Attainment status with the EPA that has to do with ozone,” Alexander said in a hearing of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment on Wednesday.

“The good news is this air around the Great Smoky Mountains is cleaner, demonstrably cleaner, and our conservation groups have noticed that and most of us who live there notice that,” the Maryville native said. “The local community is eager for the EPA to consider and approve the state’s request and determine that the air is cleaner because that helps them with economic development.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, counties must show they’ve met the National Ambient Air Quality Standards to receive what’s known as “attainment status.” Counties that have not attained clean air under federal guidelines must comply with tougher air emission standards, which means companies looking to build new manufacturing plants must use more pollution control equipment. That makes it more expensive for companies to locate within nonattainment counties and create jobs, Alexander said.

The state of Tennessee, TVA and local counties have all worked together to improve the air quality in East Tennessee. At the hearing Wednesday, Alexander asked McCarthy if she would commit the EPA to quickly review the state’s application on behalf of the three Tennessee counties, and she committed to doing so.