December 20, 2006
Cleaner Stark air may help attract industry to area
By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON The air is cleaner in Stark County, and industry in
particular is expected to benefit as it becomes less costly to
locate or expand in the county, officials said Tuesday.
Federal environmental officials said the county has come into
compliance with standards regulating ozone in the air and is on
track to being redesignated as an attainment area.
Stark County had been among 33 counties in Ohio and 474 across
the nation that fell short of compliance with tighter standards
the federal government introduced in 2004 to reduce ozone.
Tuscarawas and Carroll counties have been in compliance with
ozone regulations and thus would not be affected by the
redesignation of Stark.
Ozone, or smog, can cause respiratory problems such as coughing,
wheezing, shortness of breath and chest pain. It forms when a
mixture of pollutants - including nitrogen oxide and volatile
organic compounds released by automobiles, power plants and
factories - react on warm, sunny days.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced
that Stark, Allen and Belmont counties are in compliance with
the limits based on the average level of ozone detected from
2003 to 2005. The counties were out of compliance in 2004 based
on a 2001-2003 ozone average.
John Mooney, chief of the criteria pollutant section at the EPA,
said records show the reduced ozone levels continued in 2006.
The EPA is proposing to redesignate the three counties as in
attainment with ozone rules, as requested by Ohio officials.
The state also has asked the EPA to redesignate several other
areas that have achieved compliance, including the
Dayton-Springfield area and Jefferson County. State officials
also plan to ask for redesignation of the Youngstown-Warren
MORE ATTRACTIVE TO INDUSTRY
If Stark County gets the anticipated ruling that it is in
attainment following a required public-comment period, it would
become a more attractive location for industry looking to move
into or expand in the county.
That's because in attainment areas, the regulations that must be
met to build or expand a plant that produces ozone-forming
chemicals are less stringent.
"I'm happy that it happened," Robert Pattison, health
commissioner for the Canton City Health Department, said of the
EPA finding. "We've been working very hard to achieve that."
Officials said when Stark County fell out of compliance, the
federal government implemented tighter and more costly
emission-control regulations for new or expanding
In addition, new or expanding businesses had to contend with a
federal requirement that they purchase "offsets" from cleaner
companies in order to operate in the county.
The tighter regulations and the offset program are not required
in attainment areas.
Heidi Griesmer, spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental
Protection Agency, said when an area is out of compliance it is
harder to attract industry.
"It's a stigma," she said.
Because Stark County was only slightly out of compliance, it was
not required to adopt a vehicle emissions inspection program or
have vapor-control nozzles installed on gasoline pumps. Those
programs are in effect in nearby Summit County.
Griesmer said the state did require power plants to reduce
nitrogen oxide emissions starting in 2004, which played a part
in cleaning the air.
Area transportation officials also welcomed the county's
compliance with ozone rules.
Paul Jaeger, technical director for the Stark County Area
Transportation Study, said if the county had not come into
compliance by 2009, it might have faced cuts in federal
"We're definitely relieved," he said.