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MAY IS CLEAN AIR MONTH
May 10, 2011
MADISON -- May is Clean Air Month and the state's top environmental official says it is an important time to celebrate the major steps that have been taken to improve the quality of the air in Wisconsin.
"Cleaner air is a tremendous benefit to families, businesses and government," Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp said. "Our clean air and water are one of the reasons businesses and families want to be in Wisconsin and an important component of the high quality of life we enjoy here."
Public health officials and organizations say improving air quality is imperative for public safety. Chronic air pollution and high, peak levels of air pollution can cause acute health effects. There is growing recognition of health value of addressing air pollution, and accordingly, the technology to further reduce air pollution is rapidly developing.
The Clean Air Act, enacted in 1970 and amended in 1990, reshaped the way this country views clean air. Over the years, Wisconsin has had many success stories regarding air quality, including:
- Sulfur dioxide emissions from electric utilities in the state were 46 percent lower in 1990 after passage of Wisconsin's groundbreaking acid rain law in 1986.
- All 11 southeastern Wisconsin counties now meet the federal one-hour standard for ozone levels; as recently as 1993 they did not. In the case of the six county "severe nonattainment" area (Kenosha, Racine, Milwaukee, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties,) the one-hour standard was met in 2005, two years ahead of the mandated date.
- A mercury multi-pollutant rule, adopted in 2008, required the state's four major utilities to reduce their mercury emissions by 40 percent by the end of 2010. It also requires the state's large coal-fired power plants to reduce mercury emissions by 90 percent by 2015 or, if the reductions cannot be achieved by 2015, meet that target and also reduce multiple pollutants, including nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide, six years later.
- Since 2004, $ 9.9 million in federal and state funds have been invested in Wisconsin's clean diesel grant programs. That total has been matched with $8.3 million from grant recipients in the private sector, affecting close to 3,200 pieces of equipment from all types of diesel operations in Wisconsin including trucks, school and other transit buses and construction and agricultural equipment. These projects will: reduce over 393,000 tons of emissions; save over 33 million gallons of diesel fuel; result in over $9 million savings each year in health benefits; and save over $137 million in health costs over the lifetime of the programs.
During the month of May, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources will be celebrating Clean Air Month. Highlights include:
- DNR has updated its Air Matters newsletter to provide more timely information on state and federal air quality issues. The inaugural issue of Air News, includes a feature article on Clean Air Month and provides tips, information and resources on air quality and health. Log on to find news flashes as well as feature stories on air-related subjects, or sign up for the Air News Listserv for notification when new information is posted.
- DNR will continue to promote ways individuals can reduce their air emissions and learn the quality of the air where they live.
- Air quality information is available through the DNR Air Quality Hotline (1-866-DAILY-AIR) or the DNR air management website.
- More additional information on the DNR Air Management Program is available on the DNR website.
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: John Melby, (608) 264-8884
Last Revised: Tuesday, May 10, 2011