The state and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency disagree whether a part of DeSoto Parish should become the second area of the state classified as not meeting federal air quality standards for sulfur dioxide.
The EPA on Wednesday released its recommendation to list part of the parish as out of attainment; the state Department of Environmental Quality has until April 19 to provide the federal government with additional information before a final decision is announced in early July.
In 2013, St. Bernard Parish became the first parish in the state found out of compliance with new federal standards for sulfur dioxide pollution, which can cause breathing problems. For years, the standard had been based on a 24-hour average but was changed in 2010 to look at an hourly average. This initial list was based on monitoring information only. EPA said it would get to other sources later through either monitoring or computer modeling.
Legal action from the Sierra Club and others on the standard resulted in a consent decree to push those future designations to be made earlier, starting primarily with coal-fired power plants in this most recent announcement.
“The EPA’s move will mean healthier air for those living near the plants in DeSoto Parish,” wrote Woody Martin, chairman of the Delta Chapter of the Sierra Club. “The Delta Chapter (Louisiana) of the Sierra Club applauds today’s action by the EPA to identify areas in Louisiana around dirty, outdated coal plants where the air causes suffering from the high levels of sulfur dioxide pollution.”
This round of designations looked at any areas with new violations of the standard or any facility that released above a specific amount of sulfur dioxide in 2012.
In a September letter to EPA, the state recommended that two facilities in Calcasieu Parish be classified in compliance with the air standard, but EPA decided they were unclassifiable.
Tegan Treadaway, DEQ administrator of the air permits division, said EPA had some problems with the computer modeling used to make the state’s recommendation.
Those concerns will be reviewed and addressed if possible, she said.
A third facility in question, Dolet Hills Power Station in DeSoto Parish, was recommended by DEQ to be deemed unclassifiable because there was no air monitor in the area.
Treadaway said an air monitor was installed in October and there should be a three-month data set that could be presented to EPA for reconsideration.
Cleco Power, which runs Dolet Hills Power Station, didn’t return a request for comment by deadline.
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