Top Chattanooga Air Quality Officials Join Sen. Alexander in Support of New Clean Air Rule

Officials say that “without recent improvements in air quality, the VW site would be a vacant lot”

Posted on June 15, 2012

CHATTANOOGA -- Chattanooga's top air quality official today told Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that without recent improvements in air quality “the site of the new Volkswagen plant behind us would be a vacant lot.”

Bob Colby, director of the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau, joined Sen. Alexander at a press conference at the Volkswagen site. They were also joined by Colby's predecessor, Wayne Cropp. Both Cropp and Colby served as chairman of the Air Toxics Committee of the National Association of Clean Air Agencies, which recommended the clean air laws upon which the new rule is based. Both men said they supported implementation of the new Utility MACT rule upon which the U.S. Senate will vote Wednesday.

Alexander was in Chattanooga at a press conference at the Volkswagen site to discuss his support for upholding the clean air rule which he said “will stop dirty air from blowing into Tennessee from other states and jeopardizing our health and ability to attract the next Volkswagen supplier.''

Colby explained that if a metropolitan area does not meet federal air quality attainment standards, “it drops off the list of sites for industrial prospects.”

Alexander said that when Nissan came to Tennessee in 1980, “the first thing they did was go down to the air quality board and ask for a permit for their paint plant. If it had not been granted, Nissan would have gone to Georgia and we would not be able to say that one third of our manufacturing jobs are auto jobs.”

Alexander said that "every metropolitan area in Tennessee is struggling today to stay within the air quality standards that affect whether new industries are able to locate in those areas. TVA alone cannot clean up our air. We have to have help from our neighbors.”

The senator said the effect of the new Utility MACT rule taken together with other rules he has supported will require “states around us to do what TVA already is planning to do.”

Colby said, “The only fair thing to do is that if we are required to do it, then our neighbors should be required to do it, too."

The senator said that “East Tennesseans know that we have a clean air problem. Knoxville has been the worst city in the country for asthma three times in the past eight years. Chattanooga is fifth. The Great Smokies is one of the most polluted national parks in the country.”

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