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Administrator Wheeler Wraps Up Visit to Southeast Wisconsin Highlighting Clean Air Progress

06/16/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Racine, Wis.(June 16, 2020) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler concluded his two-day trip to Southeast Wisconsin in Sheboygan where he announced new air quality attainment designations for Door and Inland Sheboygan Counties with U.S. Congressmen Glenn Grothman (WI-06) and Tom Tiffany (WI-07). Administrator Wheeler also visited SC Johnson's headquarters, where he discussed plastics recycling and EPA's role in approving disinfectants to fight COVID-19.

“Americans are currently breathing the cleanest air since air quality recordkeeping began, and Wisconsin is definitely doing its part for America’s environment,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Whether it’s air quality improvements in Sheboygan, announcing the first-ever Trash Free Grant for the Great Lakes, or watching the rapid redevelopment of a Superfund site in Milwaukee’s Harbor District, EPA promises to continue supporting Wisconsin communities in their efforts to improve the health and economic well-being of its citizens.”

In Sheboygan, Administrator Wheeler announced the Newport State Park area in Door County and Inland area of Sheboygan are now meeting federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone, which means cleaner and healthier air for Wisconsin residents.

“Victory at last!” said U.S. Congressman Glenn Grothman (WI-06). “I applaud the Trump Administration and the EPA for recognizing the error of the previous administration’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act’s national ambient air quality standards and thank Administrator Wheeler for coming to Sheboygan to announce these long-overdue changes. The big reason Sheboygan County was saddled with restrictive air quality standards is due to the placement of a sensor in its air monitor network that logs ozone pollution from other industrial areas on Lake Michigan as pollution created in Sheboygan. These other areas, like Chicago, create ozone pollution, which is blown over the lake and into Sheboygan County, resulting in higher readings for the sensors placed right along the lake. The regulations imposed on Sheboygan County because of these readings have no effect on the pollutants created elsewhere and put unwarranted economic restrictions on Wisconsinites. I have been working to make this correction since my time in the state legislature and am glad that it is finally being done.”

“For too long, federal regulators have treated local communities as enemies instead of partners,” said U.S. Congressman Tom Tiffany (WI-07). “I'm glad the Trump administration is rejecting that tired, Washington-knows-best mentality in favor of a cooperative, win-win approach that yields better economic and environmental outcomes for all Americans.”

The Trump EPA finalized the redesignation of the Inland Sheboygan area for the 2008 National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone. The Inland Sheboygan area is also in attainment of the more stringent 2015 National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) for ozone.

EPA and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources formally redesignated the Newport State Park area in Door County to attainment of the 2015 NAAQS for ground-level ozone. This is the first redesignation for 2015 ozone NAAQS in the State of Wisconsin. Air monitoring data show the Newport State Park area meets the ozone standard and all other NAAQS set to protect public health.

“The Newport State Park area achieving attainment with the 2015 NAAQS is a significant and positive development for Door County,” said Door County, Wis. County Administrator Ken Pabish. “The time, effort and able assistance of all involved, including the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Attorney Art Harrington, is greatly appreciated. We look forward to working with the DNR and EPA to keep the area in attainment long into the future. Thank you.”

“The City of Sheboygan is pleased to achieve acceptable air quality data that allows the Environmental Protection Agency to re-designate Sheboygan County as compliant with the 2008 Air Quality Standards,” said Sheboygan Mayor Mike Vandersteen. “The businesses in Sheboygan County have spent a great deal of time and additional expense to reduce the ozone that is released by their operations, these efforts have produced this result that we can all applaud.”

“Sheboygan County was pleased to work with the County Chamber, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, State and Federal Legislators and other community leaders to advocate for this change,” said Sheboygan Wis. County Administrator Adam Payne. “People and businesses of Sheboygan County were being held accountable for air pollution generated in other states, and we appreciate the action of the EPA to address this unfair and punitive situation.”

“This is incredibly good news for businesses and workers in Sheboygan County, and we thank President Trump and EPA Administrator Wheeler for providing the relief that the community has earned,” said Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce Executive Vice President of Government Relations Scott Manley.

Under the Trump Administration, EPA has redesignated 23 nonattainment areas since 2017 in EPA Region 5, which is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Nationally, the Trump Administration has redesignated 41 nonattainment areas since 2017. Attainment redesignations show improvements in cleaner air, better health outcomes, and greater economic opportunities for cities and communities across the country.

Under President Trump, combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants in the U.S. have dropped 7% and the amount of ozone in our air decreased 4%.

Learn more about redesignations: https://www.epa.gov/ground-level-ozone-pollution/redesignation-and-clean-data-policy-cdp

Administrator Wheeler wrapped up his trip to Southeast Wisconsin with a visit to SC Johnson’s headquarters in Racine, Wis. where they discussed plastics recycling and EPA's role in approving disinfectants to combat COVID-19 and toured the sustainable development on their HQ campus.

EPA has expedited approvals for more than 400 disinfectants to fight COVID-19. For more information: https://www.epa.gov/coronavirus

Administrator Wheeler began the trip in Milwaukee where he announced the first-ever Trash Free Waters grant for the Great Lakes. He wrapped up the day with a tour of both the Solvay Coke Superfund site, which is being simultaneously remediated and redeveloped for productive use, and the Golden E Dairy where he discussed important issues including EPA's role in pesticide approvals, supply chain disruptions caused by COVID-19, and the Navigable Waters Protection Rule with agricultural stakeholders.