Friday January 17, 2014
Mayor will implement all recommendations from two independent reviews
Following a top-to-bottom review that revealed major flaws in the management and operations of the Louisville Air Pollution Control District, Mayor Greg Fischer announced today he is making sweeping changes at the agency responsible for keeping the city’s air clean.
“Safe air is vital to our community’s health, and we need to be able to trust and rely on the people hired to protect it,” Fischer said. “We looked at every aspect of the APCD. The changes I am putting in place will make the District more efficient, more effective, and more trustworthy.”
The mayor ordered two separate reviews of the agency last year following audits by the Kentucky Division for Air Quality and EPA that discovered serious flaws in data collected by the District’s air monitoring network, a federally mandated program that is supposed to ensure that Louisville’s air is safe and healthy.
Until last year, the EPA had given APCD relatively good marks for its air monitoring programs, but a new audit discovered serious flaws in how the data was collected and analyzed, potentially calling into question the city’s compliance with federal clean air laws. Fischer initially ordered a review of the air monitoring division and later asked for a separate review to examine the entire agency, its structure and personnel.
The air monitoring review was conducted by Inquest Environmental Inc., a Columbia, Mo., firm with 20 years of experience designing, installing, operating, and analyzing air quality networks around the nation.
The organizational review was conducted by Scott R. Smith, a former chief of staff for Kentucky's Environmental & Public Protection Cabinet who is now a senior consultant with Smith Management Group, an environmental consulting firm based in Louisville and Lexington.
Among the key findings and recommendations of those reviews:
- APCD upper management lacked oversight and control over the organization.
- There was a breakdown in quality control and quality assurance in the Air Monitoring Section.
- Upper management must take a more active and direct role in Air Monitoring.
- The number and location of employee positions throughout APCD must be evaluated and the qualifications of current staff need to be assessed relative to each position.
- A Deputy Director should be hired to manage day-to-day operations and improve communication and accountability.
- Some Air Monitoring operations, specifically the laboratory analysis of particulate matter (PM) filters, should be contracted to a company that has more expertise and better equipment than city government. It would also save the city from making significant investments to bring air monitoring lab up to acceptable levels.
The current APCD Environmental Programs Section should be integrated into other sections or programs at the agency.
A culture of continuous improvement at APCD needs to be a priority.
Many of the recommendations are already underway, including better quality control, more training for staffers, contracting to outside group for some laboratory analysis, and the purchase of new and better air-monitoring equipment.
Fischer thanked the EPA and the Kentucky Division for Air Quality for technical support and encouragement during this process. He also thanked Air Pollution Control Board Chair Dr. Robert Powell and the board for their due diligence the past few months.
“Their assistance has been vital as we have assessed and addressed the problems, both in the air monitoring network and the District as a whole,” Mayor Fischer said.
Fischer announced today that he has appointed Keith H. Talley Sr., the APCD’s interim Executive Director since November, to the position on a permanent basis. Talley, former Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Financial Institutions in Frankfort, has expertise in turning around a regulatory agency.
Talley will be responsible for implementing further managerial and staff changes that will be necessitated by the reorganization plan, including the relocation of the APCD staff, currently housed in separate buildings at the Urban Government Center, into one office.
The APCD will be reorganized into two groups:
- Air Quality Operations
- Air Monitoring
- Air Permits
- Compliance and Enforcement
- Regulatory Development and Planning
- Strategic Planning and Administration
- Budget/Finance/Grant Administration/Contracts/HR
- Agency Initiatives/Technology/Open Records/Program Planning
Mayor Fischer said he will continue to closely monitor the APCD as it works to correct the many issues uncovered by the audits and independent reviews. He has also asked the state to return in 6 months to access how the city is implementing the changes.
“You cannot have a growing and vibrant city without clean air and a clean environment,” Mayor Fischer said. “Our response to the review ensures that we will continue to pursue these goals.”
Note: The independent reviews are posted at www.louisvilleky.gov/APCD.