Alexander Urges EPA to ‘Quickly’ Approve TDEC Application for NE TN Clean Air Status

Press release from U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander; November 13, 2014:

“If counties in East Tennessee want to encourage job growth, they’ve got to have clean air so companies can easily get permits to build new plants, and I commend Gov. Haslam, local mayors and the Tennessee Valley Authority for their work on this issue.” – Lamar Alexander

WASHINGTON, Nov. 13, 2014 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s decision to apply for clean air attainment status for Anderson, Blount and Knox counties shows these counties are “open for business” after improving their air quality to meet federal clean air standards.  He also called on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to approve the application as quickly as possible.

Alexander said: “This announcement means Anderson, Blount and Knox counties are ready to say ‘we’re open for business, our air is clean and healthy.’ If counties in East Tennessee want to encourage job growth, they’ve got to have clean air so companies can easily get permits to build new plants, and I commend Gov. Haslam, local mayors and the Tennessee Valley Authority for their work on this issue. Now I’m calling on the EPA to approve this application in as timely of a manner as possible.”

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett said: “Our local leaders have worked hard alongside Senator Alexander to improve air quality in East Tennessee, and this is a significant step in reaching attainment. We want to encourage new businesses and industries to come to our region, and air quality is an important factor. Not only is clean air good for the environment but it’s good for economic development.”

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said: “It has taken incredible teamwork to improve our air quality and that improvement is vital to our local economy and quality of life. Anderson County knows we have lost some potential business and industry locations, but we worry more about those who never look at us in the first place because of our time in non-attainment. Governor Haslam, TDEC, and TVA have been excellent partners in our progress, and Senator Alexander has been with us every step of the way. We can’t thank him enough for caring about us.”

Blount County Mayor Ed Mitchell said: “With this announcement all the hard work that Blount, Knox, and Anderson counties have committed to over the years to improve air quality for this area has finally been realized. This opens up so many more doors for us to recruit top companies and businesses into our area. This ultimately means new good-paying jobs for our citizens allowing them to enjoy a comfortable and rewarding life with their family. I want to say that this has been brought about by the hard work and tremendous support we have received from Senator Lamar Alexander and Governor Bill Haslam. Senator Alexander has worked with us on the local level as well as the state and federal to bring this all together and on behalf of Blount County I appreciate everything he has done for us.”

Under the federal Clean Air Act, counties must show they’ve met federal clean air standards, named National Ambient Air Quality Standards, to receive what’s known as “attainment status.” Counties that have not attained clean air under federal guidelines must comply with tougher air emission standards that mean companies looking to build new manufacturing plants must use more pollution control equipment. That makes it more expensive for companies to locate within those counties and create jobs, Alexander said.

The state of Tennessee, TVA and local counties have all worked together to improve the air quality in East Tennessee. The state’s application on behalf of Anderson, Blount and Knox counties must now be approved by the EPA.