Supervisors say no to EPA
SIBLEY, Iowa -- The Osceola County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday morning to set a public hearing date for the Harris urban renewal project and to discuss ozone regulations.
SIBLEY, Iowa - The Osceola County Board of Supervisors met Tuesday morning to set a public hearing date for the Harris urban renewal project and to discuss ozone regulations.
Following in the footsteps of Lyon County, Iowa’s Board of Supervisors and Northwest Iowa Development (NWID), the county board passed a resolution in opposition to potential Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS). In laymen’s terms, the NAAQS is ground-level ozone, the main component of smog.
Smog is typically thought of as an issue in larger metropolitan areas such as New York or Los Angeles, but the problem could lead to issues in Osceola County and the surrounding areas.
In 2008, the EPA set the current standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb) in 2008. According to NWID, all 99 Iowa counties meet the current standard.
However, a push to lower the rate to 65 ppb would leave Osceola County and many others in hot water.
At the 65 ppb rate, one-third of Iowa counties would be in non-compliance, including the six counties represented by NWID. The agency is opposed to the new standards, saying that the 2008 NAAQS have not been fully implemented.
NERA Economic Consulting released a study indicating that the new standard could reduce U.S. gross domestic product by an estimated $140 billion per year on average from 2017 through 2040. In Iowa, lowering the NAAQS to 65 ppb could cost the state $7 billion in gross state product loss through 2017. Average household consumption would drop in average by $270 per year. Further, the equivalent of 6,238 jobs would be lost per year, the study said.
In addition, counties that are in non-compliance may be required to identify ways to curb emission. But, according to NWID, current technologies are not available to achieve a lower standard. The result could be a halt in new business investment and job expansion within non-compliant counties, it says.
The EPA will issue its opinion Oct. 1.
Harris urban renewal project
Once again a source of controversy, the board of supervisors voted to set a date for a public hearing regarding the establishment of an urban renewal area to establish a TIF district to aid the city of Harris, in a mandated sewer project.
The 170-resident town is unable to bond the necessary amount needed to complete the project and is unable to afford it on its own. Harris Mayor Greg Spaethe approached the supervisors earlier this year to ask for help in obtaining funding for the necessary updates.
Iowa Sen. David Johnson questioned if the public hearing should be set in the evening to permit more people who may be working or farming to attend and voice their opinions on the matter.
Supervisor Jayson Vande Hoef noted that if people are unable to attend the meeting, they are welcome to submit their comments in writing to the board prior to the meeting. Supervisor Phil Bootsma said a perfect time that would accommodate every person would be impossible. Some farmers prefer to work in the evening rather than morning, while others prefer the opposite.
The board voted unanimously to leave the public hearing at the time and place that had been established. The meeting will take place at 9 a.m. Oct. 20 at the Osceola County Courthouse.