Administrator Wheeler Announces Cleaner Air in Sheboygan and Door Counties, Wisconsin

By: EPA Press Release -- Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced that the Newport State Park area in Door County and the Inland area of Sheboygan County are now meeting federal air quality standards for ground-level ozone, which means cleaner and healthier air for Wisconsin residents.

“These beautiful areas of Wisconsin, home to more than 100,000 people and enjoyed by many more for their outdoor recreation opportunities, are part of a national trend of cleaner and healthier air. Under President Trump, Americans are breathing the cleanest air ever recorded and this all begins with tangible improvements in communities like Sheboygan and Door Counties,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “By working hand in hand with states to help them meet air quality standards, the Trump EPA is helping areas like Sheboygan and Door Counties breathe easier and improve local economies.”

“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 Administration has redesignated 23 nonattainment areas since 2017 in EPA Region 5, which is comprised of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. Attainment redesignations mean cleaner air, improved 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%. Nationally, the Trump Administration has redesignated 41 nonattainment areas since 2017.

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

“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.”

Yesterday, EPA redesignated Inland Sheboygan area to attainment of the 2008 NAAQS for ground-level ozone. The Inland Sheboygan area is also in attainment of the more stringent 2015 NAAQS for ozone. In April, EPA and WDNR proposed redesignation of the Inland Sheboygan area to attainment of the 2008 ozone standard based on data from the inland monitor.

“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.

All of Sheboygan County was designated in 2012 as a nonattainment area for the 2008 ozone standard based on an analysis including data from an air quality monitor located on the Lake Michigan shoreline. In 2014, EPA and WDNR started operating another air quality monitor three miles inland. In 2019, EPA split the full-county nonattainment area into separate Inland Sheboygan and Shoreline Sheboygan areas. This action provided Wisconsin with additional flexibility in meeting Clean Air Act requirements and acknowledged differences in the factors influencing air quality in the separate areas. 

The Shoreline Sheboygan area could be redesignated to attainment of 2008 NAAQS for ozone as soon as this summer. Last month, EPA and WDNR proposed to redesignate the Shoreline Sheboygan area to attainment based on data from the shoreline air quality monitor. EPA is currently reviewing the feedback received on the proposal during the public comment period, which closed on June 12. EPA has also proposed approval of Wisconsin’s plan to ensure that both Inland and Shoreline Sheboygan areas will continue to maintain air quality improvements.

According to emissions modeling, federal regulations that set fuel and motor vehicle emission standards helped to improve ozone concentrations in the Inland and Shoreline Sheboygan areas, in addition to the Newport State Park area. air pollutants regulated under NAAQS – sulfur dioxide, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen Nationally, the concentration of ground level ozone has decreased 21% from 2000 to 2019. All other dioxide and particulate matter – have also significantly decreased thanks to technological advances and various air quality management and control strategies developed and implemented at the local, state, regional, and national level.

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