JOPLIN, Mo. —
The Environmental Task Force of Jasper and Newton Counties is moving closer to serving as a committee of the Joplin Area Transportation Study Organization to help that organization address local air-quality issues related to ozone.
The task force, in a meeting Wednesday afternoon at Joplin City Hall, approved a memorandum of understanding with JATSO, which oversees federal planning funds from the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Administration in the Joplin Metropolitan Area.
An organizing group of the task force will form a committee that will be known as the Tri-State Clean Air Alliance. The initial area would include Jasper and Newton counties. Invitations to join will be extended to Cherokee County, Kan., and Ottawa County, Okla., and the Inter-Tribal Council at Miami, Okla.
The alliance will monitor the results of air-quality monitoring stations and inform the public about air-quality concerns. If levels of ozone, a naturally occurring gas with a slight presence in the atmosphere, become too high in the region, the committee could promote voluntary participation in the implementation of a clean air action plan.
“We plan to hold some educational meetings to explain what we are trying to do,’’ said Bob Nichols, head of the task force. “We will recruit representatives to serve on the committee from city agencies, environmental groups, the tribes and other interested parties.’’
Representatives of Springfield’s air-quality program and the Ozark Clean Air Alliance said high levels of ground-level ozone have been detected in the Joplin area by an air monitor at Alba. Non-attainment occurs when ozone is detected at 75 parts per billion.
Power plants and automobiles, they said, are the primary causes of ground-level ozone. Manufacturing, the heat wave and weather patterns also can contribute to elevated levels of ozone.
One of the representatives said Joplin recently had high levels of ozone because of air that was moved here from the St. Louis area by a high-pressure system. Joplin’s ozone levels also can be influenced by air quality in Tulsa, Okla.
In other business, the task force approved two grants of $4,500 each to be given to the health departments of Jasper and Newton counties for watershed projects involving the Spring River and Shoal Creek.
The task force accepted the resignation of Linda Swaim, who has served as a regional coordinator of stream-team activities in Southwest Missouri.