The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

February 25, 2014

Alliance approves voluntary clean air action plan in area

The Four States Clean Air Alliance approved a voluntary clean air action plan for the region during a meeting Tuesday at Joplin’s City Hall.

The group was formed in response to air monitoring that shows the Joplin area has, in recent years, exceeded federal standards for ground-level ozone.

Ground-level ozone is one of six principal pollutants that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified as harmful to public health and the environment. Ground-level ozone can aggravate asthma and increase people’s susceptibility to respiratory illnesses.

Before the plan was adopted, Robin McAlester, a member of the alliance and an employee of Empire District Electric Co., explained a public awareness and education plan that will unfold this summer when ground-level ozone is at its highest concentrations.

The plan emphasizes the use of public service announcements, social media and a speakers bureau. The topics will focus on energy use, driving, solvents and lawn mowing, all sources of summertime ozone.

The plan also calls for the development of a website that will support specific objectives of the Clean Air Action Plan.

Dan Pekarek, head of the Joplin Health Department and chairman of the group, said the group will be an advocate for projects that reduce ozone production. Examples, he said, would be a transportation project that increases traffic flow to reduce idle time or the development of a walking trail in a community.

Before the plan can take effect, it must be approved by the Environmental Task Force of Jasper and Newton Counties, and the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization. Those endorsements are expected to take place next month so that the plan may be implemented in April.

Ground-level ozone forms when volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides react in the atmosphere with sunlight and heat. Because ozone requires sunlight and heat to form, it becomes a concern from April through October.

The action plan will identify ways in which ground-level ozone can be reduced through voluntary measures by individuals, businesses and organizations. Most of the ozone in the Joplin area is generated by upwind sources and vehicular traffic.

Not using a gas-powered lawn mower during the heat of a summer day could affect ground-level ozone. Conserving energy by turning off lights and appliances could reduce emissions from power plants.

Geographic focus

THE ACTION PLAN will focus primarily on Jasper and Newton counties in Missouri, but counties upwind from the two-county area eventually will be included. Those would be McDonald County in Missouri, Ottawa County in Oklahoma, Cherokee County in Kansas and Benton County in Arkansas.

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