Lafourche, Terrebonne join ozone program

HOUMA (AP) — Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes are joining in a regional effort to curb ozone pollution as the federal government is poised to enact stricter air-quality standards that could put parishes out of compliance.

The area is one of several in Louisiana that have joined the Environmental Protection Agency’s Ozone Advance Program.

The program targets measures to keep areas from entering nonattainment, the federal term for not meeting pollution standards for ozone and particulate matter pollution.

Terrebonne and Lafourche will join with Assumption, St. James, St. Charles and St. John the Baptist parishes on that effort.

Local officials say program participation is important because it could help keep parishes from facing immediate restrictions when new ozone standards are enacted.

“Basically the EPA has said that if you guys as a region come together and do some things proactively to reduce your ozone levels, and you do go into nonattainment, we’re not going to lower the boom on you,” said Kevin Belanger, chief executive officer of the South Central Planning and Development Commission, which is leading the local effort. “We know this is coming, so we want to come together to approach this.”

Michael Vince, environmental scientist senior with the state Department of Environmental Quality, said federal environmental officials regularly reexamine and lower the acceptable standard of ozone pollution.

The latest move is of particular concern because many parts of the state are in compliance but borderline.

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