Mississippi Lawmakers Critical of EPA Ozone Non-Compliance Decision for DeSoto County

May 7, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, in addition to Representative Alan Nunnelee, today expressed their disappointment with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) decision to list parts of DeSoto County as noncompliant for air quality standards.

The EPA on Tuesday 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.

“Like so many recent EPA decisions, this action will amount to a wet blanket on job creation for DeSoto County and at the same time do absolutely nothing to improve the environment or air quality.  The hard-working people of Mississippi do not deserve this treatment,” Wicker said.

“This president and his EPA continue to pursue an agenda that kills jobs and strangles economic growth. Desoto County is the latest victim of an out of control bureaucracy in Washington,” Nunnelee 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.

•    EPA announcement: 
•    EPA Region 4:  http://www.epa.gov/airquality/ozonepollution/designations/2008standards/final/region4f.htm