Mr. Mike Leavitt
Environmental Protection Agency
Dear Administrator Leavitt:
We write to express our concern over the recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to classify Crittenden County, Arkansas, as being in non-attainment under the new 8-Hour Ozone Standard.
We believe Crittenden County, which is primarily rural, is being unfairly penalized for its geography rather than its environmental practices. Due to its proximity to Shelby County and specifically Memphis, Tennessee, Crittenden County is exposed to ozone emissions over which it has no control. These emissions have led to Crittenden County's recent non-attainment status. It seems illogical to expect Crittenden County to develop a comprehensive plan to reduce ozone emissions when they have little to no control over the sources of these emissions.
Crittenden County has limited control over the solution, but certainly feels the penalty associated with this classification. The economic ramifications associated with this classification are potentially devastating to the county's ability to attract investment and further its own economic development. Furthermore, by excluding other nearby counties within the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area (MMSA) from the new 8-Hour Ozone Standard, the EPA has created a disincentive for outside businesses to invest in Crittenden County.
We contacted you prior to this decision and urged you to include all counties in the MMSA. Your decision to exclude counties within the MSA now unfairly shifts the burden to two counties: Crittenden County in Arkansas and Shelby County in Tennessee.
Additionally, we are concerned with the EPA's apparent disregard of the Early Action Compact (EAC) entered into by the counties in the MMSA. The EAC was a significant collaborative effort that Arkansas, Tennessee and Mississippi worked on over the course of five years. Based on feedback the states received from the EPA, they expected it to be approved. EAC reductions would begin in 2005, and by 2007 80% of the MSA residents would be in attainment areas. The EPA's decision will now require the two affected counties to start over, delaying attainment. It is our understanding that the agency has identified 11 factors that can be used to determine the boundaries of non-attainment areas. At the very least, the counties now listed in non-attainment deserve to know what new criteria the EAC did not meet.
We look forward to hearing your response to this inquiry and to working with you to ensure that the citizens of Crittenden County have clean air. We would like to invite you and your staff to come to Crittenden County to work with our offices and state and local officials to determine how these factors can best be used to ensure equity for Crittenden County and the Memphis Metropolitan Statistical Area.
BLANCHE L. LINCOLN
United States Senator
United States Senator
Member of Congress