Feds Lessen Severity of Air Pollution Label for Crittenden County

SEPTEMBER 13, 2004 - Posted at 12:06 a.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, AR -  The Environmental Protection Agency has reconsidered the air pollution status it recently placed on the Memphis area, including Crittenden County, Arkansas.

The EPA lowered the Clean Air Act classification for two Memphis-area counties today to "marginal nonattainment" because the area had shown it would achieve clean air standards three years earlier than required.

Crittenden County complained when it was lumped in as an air pollutor with Shelby County, Tennessee, home of central Memphis.  Studies showed suburban Crittenden County only accounted for 10 percent of the five-county region's air pollutants.

EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt traveled to West Memphis to announce the change.  He and local leaders said the area is committed to controlling emissions from heavy diesel trucks and industrial emissions in Shelby County and to monitor and evaluate measures in Marion, Arkansas.

Marion recently lost the chance to attract at least three industrial plants because of the EPA's original "moderate nonattainment" label.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)