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I went to the Greensboro MPO
meeting this afternoon. Guilford County's non-attainment for particulate matter was discussed between an official with the N.C. Division of Air Quality and the MPO board, which is made up of, along with staff members, city councilmen Robbie Perkins and Sandy Carmany.
Mind you, Guilford's particulate levels are mainly the result of the easterly air flow from Davidson County's particulate levels, which NCDAQ recognized as a nonattainment area (along with only Catawba County).
Right now, there are two choices for local leaders: Wait and see if levels of particulate matter comes down by the end of the year, at which point NCDAQ would "request expeditious redesignation back to attainment," or file a lawsuit against the EPA.
MPO members discussed the meeting (which I did not attend) at the Chamber of Commerce yesterday among government and business leaders which really drove home the economic development impacts of such a designation. Companies possibly looking to relocate to Guilford County take a nonattainment designation into consideration.
Perkins suggested that government entities get together ASAP to file a lawsuit, which has a March 5 deadline.
"This is a typical example of government trying to protect us from ourselves and killing us while they do it," Perkins said. "This is devastating to the economic development of this region."
"If you get this non-attainment level, it's like a big red X," Carmany said.
I spoke with Laura Boothe, the NCDAQ official, and she said that trends show that air quality in North Carolina in general, and Guilford County in particular, will continue to improve. The reasons, as I've mentioned before: past legislation regarding air quality are taking effect and cars are burning cleaner.
Carmany said a sound strategy may be to go ahead and file the lawsuit as a precaution then drop it if, indeed, the county does achieve attainment levels.