Public Radio from UA Little Rock
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Companies With Low Emissions Can Skip Air Quality Permit Says EPA

Sarah Whites-Koditschek
Stuart Spencer works in the office of air quality at Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality

Arkansas has received a federal stamp of approval to make permanent standards the state has been operating under for nearly a decade.
Air quality changes made in 2010 lowered the bar for how much air pollution a company can emit without a permit. On Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency finalized those changes.
Chuck Buttry is a board member for the Arkansas Environmental Federation, an industry lobbying group. He says the rule allows companies with low pollution levels to make changes, like upgrade equipment, without a long permit process.
“You can respond to changes in market demand quicker. You can get your financing process quicker. It just speeds everything up if you don’t have to go through a six or eight month permitting process,” he said.
Buttry also said finalizing the rule creates security for companies that have been operating under the standards by ensuring their operations won’t be legally challenged.
Sierra Club of Arkansas Chapter Director Glen Hooks says lower emission standards are always going to result in more air pollution.
“What the EPA has done here is just make it easier for corporations to get around air standards and pollute more,” said Hooks.
According to Stuart Spencer, associate director of the office of air quality for ADEQ, air quality testing has shown no increase in air pollution since the changes were made.
“In those eight years, we actually saw our only county that was in non-attainment for ozone, which was Crittenden County, go back into attainment. So we were seeing improved air quality and not degraded air quality.”
The Arkansas Environmental Federation, a lobbying group, and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) worked together to propose the changes to the EPA eight years ago.

Sarah Whites-Koditschek is a former News Anchor/ Reporter for KUAR News and Arkansas Public Media.