DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - Paying for pollution it doesn't have. DeSoto County is asking the Environmental Protection Agency to separate it from Tennessee and Arkansas. County leaders claim the two neighboring states produce pollution and Mississippians are paying for it.
"There's vehicle testing in Memphis." says Desoto County Interim Planning Director Gina Tynan. "One of the reasons that's in place is because of air quality standards."
Pollution and ozone readings are regulated by the EPA with what's called an ozone rating. It's based on weather, the number of cars on the road and industry. If a county has a bad rating, it has to add things like car inspections. DeSoto County doesn't require inspections right now, but could in the future.
"I think we have enough inspections," says resident Renda May. "I'm sure it's going to cost something to have it. I think there's enough stress on the people besides adding some more."
"That's definitely going to be a burden on people," adds Trina Ferguson, another DeSoto resident.
But DeSoto County doesn't have a bad ozone rating. Arkansas does.
"The meter in Crittenden County is exceeding the new standard of 75 parts per billion," says Tynan.
Crittenden's ozone reading is at 77 parts per billion. DeSoto's at 73. Shelby County's is 74. Both are under the limit, but because the three counties are in the same air quality district, if one is over, they all are.
That's why DeSoto County is asking the EPA to separate it from Crittenden County and Shelby County. One of the things in question is how much people in DeSoto County contribute to Shelby County's ozone levels.
"We do have a great deal of commuter traffic into Shelby County," says Tynan. "One of the questions is whether that contributes to the higher meter readings in Memphis and Shelby county."
In the past, the answer has been yes. But DeSoto County has worked to get its ozone level down.
"We've done that with the retirement of old fleets of vehicles, updates to current vehicles, and modifications to school buses," says Tynan.
The northwest Mississippi county now wants to reap the rewards and not be punished for numbers it doesn't have.
"Maybe in Arkansas," says May, "but not here yet. Please, we're having a tough economy."
DeSoto County will know by December 15th if the EPA approves the request.