Indiana official says air quality improving, with state in suit against federal government


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PORTAGE, Indiana — The commissioner of Indiana's Department of Environmental Management says he wants the federal government to acknowledge the state's improving air quality.

The Times of Munster ( ) reports Thomas Easterly recently spoke at a committee meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission. He said "96 percent of the things" the state department monitored were good, and that air quality in Lake and Porter counties topped federal standards.

Those counties are at the heart of a lawsuit Indiana filed against the Environmental Protection Agency in 2012. The state said Lake and Porter counties shouldn't be included in a Chicago regional monitoring network found out of compliance with EPA rules because one Illinois monitor exceeded ozone limits.

The EPA said at the time the lawsuit was filed that Lake and Porter counties contributed to the high ozone levels in Lake County, Illinois.

Easterly said Indiana presented oral arguments in the suit last summer.

"Nobody knows how or when they're going to rule," Easterly said. "I don't know what the result will be. I'm actually surprised they got to it that fast."

Elsewhere in Northwest Indiana, Easterly said LaPorte County, which was designated by the EPA as noncompliant with ozone standards in 2012, should be "back to where we want to be" this year.

Information from: The Times,

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