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Air Pollution Board Approves Changes to Regulations

The Louisville Air Pollution Control Board has approved a suite of regulation reforms, including fee increases for some air pollution permits.At the monthly board meeting, members approved changes to Regulation 1.02, Regulation 2.02, Regulation 2.03, Regulation 2.08, Regulation 2.16, Regulation 2.17 and Regulation 5.00.The changes have been in the works for awhile. I reported about it a year ago: Many of the fees companies pay to the Air Pollution Control District are based on the tons of various pollutants they emit every year. But as both technology advances and tightening federal regulations reduce air pollution, Louisville’s air is getting cleaner and the fees paid to the district are getting smaller. District Spokesman Tom Nord says that’s a ‘good news, bad news’ situation for the agency. “The good news is, it means pollution levels are dropping, which is our goal at the Air Pollution Control District,” he said. “The bad news is, if you base your fee structure on the amount of pollution people produce, you’ve got to find some way to make up that revenue somewhere.” Nord says to keep the programs sustainable, the district will have to change the way it levies fees. “So our plan is to right size our fee structure, so it’s still fair and still allows business to do business here but also recognizing that we had to make some changes in order to keep ourselves a self-sustaining operation,” he said. For example, Louisville's Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program has been around for seven years, and the permit fees have never been raised. At the time of its implementation, the district only intended fees to account for 42 percent of the program's cost, but that's no longer feasible.The APCD held a public hearing on the proposed changes last month. Two representatives of industry spoke, saying they supported the regulatory streamlining but were concerned that the APCD would eventually try to fund the district's entire budget with permit fees. They argued this wouldn't be fair, because there are sources of pollution other than industry (like vehicles). At the meeting last month, APCD spokesman Tom Nord said the agency has no intention of getting off the general fund, and the regulation changes were necessary to keep pace with changing technology.

Erica Peterson is WFPL's Director of News and Programming.