Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Michigan also faces cutbacks in air quality monitoring, risks violating federal requirments

Illinois isn't the only state facing cutbacks in environmental monitoring due to state and federal budgets. In its annual plan to monitor air quality, Michigan also revealed it is having difficulties keeping its network of air monitors intact.

Unlike Illinois, however, Michigan's cutbacks threaten the state's ability to meet federal laws for air monitoring.

"The MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality) cannot implement all of the new monitoring requirements described above without new funding and a concomitant reduction in other monitoring requirements due to financial and staffing limitations," the state's environmental agency wrote in its 2014 ambient air monitoring network review (PDF).

"Although EPA has requested funding to support these endeavors, it is unknown if adequate funds will be made available."

The Clean Air Act (PDF) requires that states publish air monitoring plans each year. It also requires a minimum number of monitors in a state, based on population and previously observed pollution levels.

In 2014, the department intends to discontinue one SO2 monitor, five PM2.5 particulate matter monitors, and one PM10 monitor. The network review mentions that MDEQ may have already discontinued a hexavalent chromium monitor in Dearborn, along with an additional PM2.5 monitoring site in Muskegon.

Federal law requires five SO2 monitors required in Michigan, but seven operate today. One is scheduled to be discontinued, but MDEQ wrote that operation of all other SO2 monitors is contingent upon "adequate levels of funding."

Region 5 air agencies, which include agencies in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, have jointly written a proposal concerning which monitors may be too expensive to operate.

"As funding becomes available or as changes to the NAAQS are finalized, the MDEQ may be able to gradually implement more of the requirements," MDEQ wrote.

The air monitoring network review also mentions that monitors in Jenison, Muskegon, Coloma, Cassopolis, and Holland are reading ozone in quantities that violates Nationa Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). The Holland monitor, in particular, continually measures the highest O3 values not just in the state, but also the region.