Economic Growth and Innovation Newsroom


Panel to Suggest Improvements to Air Quality Program

Wednesday April 19, 2006

Mayor Asks STAR Advisory Group To Review Concerns, Suggest Improvements

Continued progress in reducing air toxics is goal

Mayor Jerry Abramson today asked an existing group of business, environmental and community leaders to review recent concerns and recommend improvements to Louisville’s Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program.

STAR Program - Strategic Toxic Air ReductionThe STAR Implementation Advisory Group was created last year to advise the Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District as the agency phases in a landmark new program that seeks to reduce emissions of 18 toxic chemicals proven by local air monitoring to exceed the federal health risk goal.

"There’s little disagreement that we must reduce the levels of toxic chemicals in our air that jeopardize our citizens’ health and put us at a disadvantage in the competition with other cities for jobs," Abramson said. "However, people have different interpretations of how those changes should be made and how they will affect existing businesses and neighborhoods."

Abramson has asked the STAR Implementation Advisory Group to review about 20 specific concerns about the program’s regulations that have been raised by affected industries, environmental groups and citizens. The group will make recommendations for program changes and clarifications to the mayor and the APCD board, the district’s governing body under state law.

The mayor also has asked Metro Council President Kevin Kramer to appoint a council representative to serve on the advisory group.

The 2006 Kentucky General Assembly considered legislation that would have drastically reduced Louisville’s ability to regulate air quality. But lawmakers decided against changes at the state level after Abramson and APCD Director Art Williams pledged to continue working with affected industries on their concerns.

Abramson administration officials have met repeatedly in recent months with officials from Ford Motor Co. to understand and address specific concerns they have raised about the program’s implementation. Williams has agreed to seek several changes and clarifications in the program as a result of those discussions.

"In our meetings with industry officials, they have repeatedly asked for greater certainty in the program – greater certainty about how emissions will be measured, how the APCD will interpret their modeling and, ultimately, what kinds of changes will be required to reduce toxic emissions to the federal goal," Abramson said. "I’m counting on the advisory group and the APCD staff to address these concerns and provide as much certainty as possible."

The STAR program is being phased in over several years to give affected industries and regulators time to develop and refine emissions modeling and to make needed changes to reduce emissions.

Several regulated companies have already made changes in their production to help meet the federal health risk goal – a 1 in 1 million risk of developing cancer from lifetime exposure. About 40 companies with the largest emissions of toxic chemicals must show progress toward reaching the goal by 2009; about 180 other regulated companies must show progress by 2012.

"We must continue our commitment to making Louisville’s air safer and healthier for all people," Abramson said. "Working together, I believe we can achieve that goal."

Find out more about the STAR Program.