EPA Has High Hopes For Air Quality Improvements In Region 8

September 13, 2004--Posted at 4:30 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS --Leaders from Arkansas and Tennessee met in West Memphis today to recognize and be rewarded for the efforts they are making to improve the air quality for Crittenden and Shelby counties, and surrounding areas.

Mike Leavitt, EPA Administrator, addressed the crowd in West Memphis this morning.

"We will reclassify them from a moderate non attainment area to a marginal non attainment area,"said Leavitt.

Under this new classification, the areas must implement plans to clean up the air, as well as reducing, and controlling pollutants.

Goals under this new classification must be met by 2007.

The EPA has confidence that Memphis, and the surrounding areas, will comply.

The economic boom in the area was threatened after the EPA said the air quality was not in compliance in the area.

William Johnson, Mayor of West Memphis, attended the press conference this morning.

"It could have eventually stopped economic development in the area, that is down to, and including the construction of streets,"said Johnson.

"All of this economic development was at our grasp, and then to have such bad news of what we received in April about the non attainment,"said Marion Mayor, Frank Fogleman.

"I feel like today is the first step towards getting us out of a hole. I feel like there will be other steps towards getting us back towards attainment,"said Fogleman.