State ends contract with local air pollution control agencies

Contracts up in smoke

December 8, 2008
Local health groups are aghast at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's decision to end contracts with six local air pollution control agencies.

IDEM said Dec. 1 it would take on air permitting, air monitoring and compliance functions within the agency to increase "governmental efficiency and consistency."

Currently, IDEM contracts out those functions in several counties to local agencies, including the Indianapolis Air Pollution Control Board. By March 31, IDEM also will cease contracts with agencies in Anderson, Evansville, Gary, Hammond and Vigo County.

But the IDEM move raises a number of questions, such as who will continue to operate air monitors and whether monitoring will be discontinued, said Janet McCabe, executive director of the not-forprofit Improving Kids' Environment and a member of the Indianapolis Air Pollution Control Board.

McCabe predicted there would be less-frequent inspection of local air pollution sources under the state's watch. She also worries that state inspectors will take much longer to respond to complaints.

"This decision, with no planning for replacing these services, is a bad one for children's health in Indiana," she added.

IDEM Commissioner Thomas Easterly said switching responsibility to the agency "means we can eliminate duplicative government services and provide consistent regulatory oversight for all 92 counties."

The contracts with local agencies are paid for with money from Indiana's federal Clean Air Act grant.
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