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Great Lakes Article:

Officials meet to discuss environment
James Martin
Grand Valley Lanthorn

The EPA was represented to discuss air quality with several state legislators

Holland played host to meeting between state and local elected officials and representatives of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality on Oct. 20.

The meeting was held so that the representatives of both organizations could discuss with the government officials the potential impact of the EPA’s new air-quality control on ozone emissions on West Michigan. Rep. Peter Hoekstra, (R-Holland) and Rep. Vernon J. Ehlers, (R-Grand Rapids) were both present at the meeting.

" I thought the tone of the meeting was very good," Ehlers said. "The people at the EPA seem to now totally understand the phenomena of transport pollution. They listened well and had a lot of good comments and the audience was also quite knowledgeable about the issue. I thought it was a helpful meeting."

The air quality issue has long been a sour point with West Michigan. The EPA has wanted to impose restrictions on the ozone quantity given off by West Michigan cities. This means that people living in the area could be restricted to how they do basic tasks such as mow their lawn.
" This rule could potentially impair economic growth in West Michigan," Hoekstra said. "If handled appropriately, the EPA has an opportunity to improve air quality in West Michigan, but lakeshore counties also stand in danger of being held responsible for emissions transported from industrial area on the opposite side of the lake."

Everyone involved, however, seems to support clean air, but not punishing the people receiving emissions from someone else, a concept known as transport pollution.

The EPA has admitted that their highest ozone readings are coming from a monitor in Allegan County, right on the lakeshore.

" In my role as a scientist, I asked some very pointed questions about the scientific background for the actions they are recommending," Ehlers said. "By and large, I think they understand the science quite well - much better than they have in the past. It was interesting to learn that the EPA’s most sophisticated computer models are used to deal with the Chicago region and the Lake Michigan lake effect on the atmosphere."

The EPA has not been able to acknowledge the concept of transport pollution in their rules and regulations. In an upcoming bill, representatives hope to give the EPA more authority over those aspects, and give them the power to deal with transport pollution.


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