“The issue of air pollution has plagued us for decades while our ability to control most of the variables causing it was out of our control,” said Taylor. “Clean air is essential to our health and well-being, and for those most susceptible to the impacts of poor air quality, it is even more critical. The bottom line of this attainment is, people are breathing easier. That is what’s important.”
Interesting dates leading to the re-designation:
On July 13, 2015, Blount County – along with Knox and part of Anderson achieved attainment status for the 2008 8-Hour Ozone Standard. In 1999, 135 days registered exceedance of the ozone and PM 2.5 AQI measurement. In 2015, only 2 days exceeded those values.
The Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization, on which Taylor serves as a board member, formally applied to the EPA for re-designation on December 12, 2016.
On August 30, 2017, Blount County, Knox, Anderson, and part of Roane County achieved attainment for the two National Ambient Air Quality Standards: the 1997 annual particulate matter PM 2.5 criteria and the 2006 24 hour PM 2.5 criteria.
On September 27, 2017, the final piece – the daily air quality attainment certification was designated.
Taylor said, “Not only is this critically important for our environment and quality of life of our citizens, but it also opens us up to new opportunity with environmentally-minded industry looking to locate in our community. With the stigma of a non-attainment community, opportunities are lost. This dedication to the quality of our environment is a win for everyone.”
The KRTPO listed significant factors in the reduction of pollution throughout the region despite an increase in population, vehicle traffic, and economic activity. Those include federal Clean Air Act regulations, improvements in technology, and economic factors. Local officials give TVA much of the credit in reducing emissions throughout the region by focusing on its plants to the south and west of our area and thought to be some of the greater impact to the pollution in our region.
Link to the Knoxville Regional Transportation Planning Organization presentation slides (powerpoint)