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Federal lawmakers 'disappointed' in EPA's air quality decision

DESOTO COUNTY — Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), in addition to Rep. Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), have expressed their disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to list parts of DeSoto County as noncompliant for air quality standards.

The EPA listed northern DeSoto County in its final designations for areas that do not meet 2008 air quality standards set in the Clean Air Act, as well as other counties linked to the Memphis metropolitan area (Shelby County, Tenn., and Crittenden County, Ark.).

“I am disappointed with this decision and remain unconvinced that DeSoto County is a major contributor to poor air quality in the region. I am concerned that this designation unfairly penalizes north Mississippi and that it could affect job creation in the future, particularly as the EPA plans to propose new ozone standards next year,” Cochran said.

The three Mississippi lawmakers in February met with EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to express their opposition to the federal agency’s proposal to include DeSoto County with Memphis for violation of ozone emission standards. They argued a nonattainment decision could hamper economic and community growth in DeSoto County.

In December 2011, EPA announced a proposal to include parts of DeSoto County with Memphis, which has ozone emissions that are above allowable limits set by federal regulation.

The EPA did not list DeSoto County in the Memphis non-attainment area in 2004 because the county did not significantly contribute to ozone levels in the Memphis area. Since that time, ozone concentrations have dropped in DeSoto County, according to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.

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