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Great Lakes Article:

DNR list will omit 10 state counties
Despite failure to avoid pollution, some given break
The Associated Press

MILWAUKEE - A state agency is preparing to recommend letting 10 counties avoid tougher pollution controls even though those areas are pushing the federal limits for harmful ozone levels.

The state Department of Natural Resources would recommend keeping 10 counties on a list of areas that fail to meet the federal clean air standards but keeping another 10 counties off that list, said Lloyd Eagan, director of the agency’s air management program.

Those counties that would not make the list are Winnebago, Outagamie, Calumet, Brown, Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Fond du Lac, Jefferson and Rock.

The 10 counties already on the list are in southeastern Wisconsin and along Lake Michigan.

The DNR is preparing the recommendation for Gov. Jim Doyle, who will make his own recommendations to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA will issue the final decision this spring.

The EPA requires more stringent pollution controls on businesses, emissions tests on vehicles and other pollution control efforts for areas on the list.

Business leaders in the counties on the bubble fought the designation because they feared it would devastate economic development in those areas.

Officials from two counties near the limits, Dane and Rock, announced last week they would work voluntarily to reduce emissions of the pollutants that form low-level ozone gas.

"It’s an approach, a moral commitment that we will work together, government and business, to do what we can to reduce pollution," said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.

Excessive ozone amounts can cause respiratory problems in healthy people and can worsen breathing problems for people with asthma and other chronic lung conditions.

Eric Uram, regional officer for the Sierra Club Midwest Region, said the voluntary efforts are welcome but they won’t do as much as an EPA listing to push businesses and counties to improve air quality.

Dan Leistikow, a spokesman for Doyle, said the governor will make a decision after he evaluates the DNR report. He has a July 15 deadline.

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