Associate Commissioner Patrick Mullins presented the county’s 2017 Air Quality Closeout report when the St. Francois County Commission met in regular session Tuesday at the county courthouse annex in Farmington.
In 2008, the Southeast Missouri Air Regional Planning Commission’s Air Quality Committee was established. The Air Quality Board is comprised of elected officials, industry representatives, concerned citizens and representatives for local schools and serves St. Francois, along with seven surrounding counties.
According to Mullins, there are two ozone air quality monitors — one in Ste. Genevieve County near the city of Bonne Terre and the other in Perry County near the unincorporated community of Farrar.
“On July 6, 2015, the St. Francois County Commission sent a letter to the EPA director asking EPA to maintain the standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb),” he said. “That since has changed. The EPA has lowered the value number. The new standard is 70 ppb, down from the 2008 standard of 75 ppb.”
Mullins pointed out that the present design values are 66 ppb at Bonne Terre and 67 ppb at Farrar.
“So where does that leave us?” he asked. “Both monitors were under the air standards. The Department of Natural Resources will be recommending that the existing St. Louis Metropolitan Area — including Franklin, Jefferson, St. Charles and St. Louis counties, as well as the city of St. Louis — be designated as a ‘nonattainment area’ under the National Ambient Air Quality Standard.”
Mullins told the commissioners that it is to the county’s advantage to keep its “attainment” designation.
“Attainment simply means that we do not have any restrictions on air quality,” he said. “By being classified as ‘non-attainment,’ directly, the regulations imposed would result in costs to local business, industry and governments. Indirectly, the simple fact of designation would make economic development more difficult. One of the main arguments for St. Francois County is that it is not creating large amounts of ozone. This has been and will continue to be our main argument.”
Mullins stressed the importance of St. Francois County residents doing what they can to promote good practices and help keep ozone from forming.
“That means we need to continue our efforts to educate our citizens on those things we have been talking about for several years now,” he said. “One of those things is to not ‘top off’ gas tanks. They should stop at the click when pumping gas. Use the automatic nozzle and not try to ’round up’ to the nearest dollar or fill the tank to the brim.
“Doing this can cause spills and even the smallest spills put more stuff into the air than fueling your car. Also, overfilling can actually damage some of the automatic vapor recovery systems in modern cars and replacing the charcoal canister can be really expensive.”
Mullins told the commissioners he intends to continue attending the once-a-month air quality meetings held in Perryville.
Also during the meeting, County Clerk Mark Hedrick presented the county’s 2017 sales tax report which shows that receipts for the year totaled $1,562,565.13. This is an increase of $102,072.22, or 6.99 percent, over 2016’s sales tax receipts which totaled $1,460,492.91.
In other action, commissioners held a bid opening for April election supplies and authorized bidding for road projects. The commission also proclaimed Feb. 5-11 as Thank a Farmer Week and authorized the Road & Bridge Department to sell a cab and trailer as surplus property.
Presiding Commissioner Harold Gallaher reminded attendees that county and state offices will be closed Monday, Feb. 13 in recognition of Lincoln’s birthday.
The county commission’s next meeting is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 14.
Kevin Jenkins is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3614 or email@example.com