JANESVILLE, WISCONSIN—Today, Bryan Steil released a statement following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ (WNDR) announcement that Kenosha now meets the federal air quality standard for ground-level ozone.
“Today’s announcement is great news for Kenosha. It never made sense to over-regulate Kenosha as a result of pollution from out of state, including Chicago. Thanks to the support from federal, state, and local partners, Kenosha has cleaner air and can better protect those in our community for years to come. I will continue working to protect our environment and public health, while cutting red tape,” said Steil.
In 2019, Steil spoke to EPA Administrator Wheeler about the Kenosha non-attainment issue while at a clean water event in Milwaukee. Steil also met with and discussed this issue with EPA Regional Administrator Cathy Stepp in his Janesville office.
The Kenosha area was designated non-attainment for the 2008 ozone NAAQS in June 2012. According to emissions modeling, federal regulations that set fuel and motor vehicle emission standards helped to improve ozone concentrations in the area.
Recent air monitoring data show the Kenosha area, bounded by the I-94 corridor to the west and Lake Michigan to the east in Kenosha County, is currently attaining the 2008 NAAQS for ozone. EPA is proposing to redesignate the Kenosha area to attainment and to approve Wisconsin’s plan to ensure that the area will continue to meet the ozone standard. The proposal was published in the Federal Register on April 17, 2020. The area’s redesignation will not be final until the public has an opportunity to comment.
Nationally, the concentration of ground level ozone has decreased 17% from 2000 to 2017.
Ground level ozone is not emitted directly into the air but is formed when nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight. Emissions from industrial facilities and electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs. Reducing ozone will help people to experience fewer health problems including chest pain, coughing, throat irritation and congestion. Less ground-level ozone will also help to avoid worsening conditions such as bronchitis, emphysema and asthma, and it will help to avoid reducing lung function or inflaming the linings of the lungs. Children will especially benefit from reduced exposure to ozone because their lungs are still developing.