Morgan County joins Indianapolis and Muncie in meeting some of its air quality goals this year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the county now meets the standard for sulfur dioxide — a toxic gas that can make it more difficult to breathe and, in some cases, can be life threatening.
The EPA says the county was able to decrease sulfur dioxide pollution because Indianapolis Power and Light switched its Eagle Valley coal plant to natural gas. The Hydraulic Press Brick company also started using a certain pollution control technology.
Since 2017, 26 areas in the Midwest region of the EPA meet air quality standards that they didn’t before. EPA Region 5 Administrator Kurt Thiede says the region now leads EPA regions in the country in achieving these air quality goals.
“It means millions of people throughout the region are now breathing cleaner, safer air. It also means businesses face a more efficient permitting process, which results in increased economic opportunities and jobs for those communities," he said.
Janet McCabe directs Indiana University’s Environmental Resilience Institute and used to work in the EPA’s Office of Air Quality. She says as the Trump administration advocates for more economic development, it likely prefers to have more areas that meet the standards. Those areas have fewer restrictions for businesses moving in.