Board Stands By Air Pollution Control District Staff After Critical Audit

Louisville Air Pollution Control District board members say they’re standing by the district’s staff in the wake of a state audit that found the city’s air monitoring program is seriously flawed. The board met for the first time today since the audit was released.

The audit by the Kentucky Division for Air Quality found issues with the way particulate monitoring data was collected and analyzed, and says several years of data could be thrown out.

The report also listed problems with training, and employees who didn’t sufficiently understand the monitoring program. But at the board meeting, several board members expressed confidence in the work of Air Pollution District Director Lauren Anderson and her staff. Dr. Robert Powell is the board chair.

“The district takes this situation very seriously and is working closely with the Kentucky Division of Air Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that our local air pollution data is collected and handled, analyzed and quality assured correctly and accurately,” he said during the meeting, reading prepared remarks.

Board members Ronald Thomas and Bill Jacob also defended the district’s staff.

“I feel the utmost confidence that what this board’s doing and what the people running this office are doing is right. Things happen, and they’ll get to the bottom of it, I promise you,” Thomas said. “I’m telling you right now, this committee here will stand by anything they do.”

Bill Jacob reiterated Thomas’ remarks, and said the Air Pollution Control District is a “very, very professional” organization.

“Audits are a necessary evil to make any organization better,” he said. “And that’s what will happen out of this.”

But David Coyte, the president of the group Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation, questioned that unwavering support. He said the air district’s faulty data contributed to the approval of numerous transportation projects and citizens should demand rigorous air monitoring.

“We depend on this monitoring to be scientifically accurate and valid so we can make intelligent decisions,” Coyte said. “We now find that we have been making decisions based upon bad information. So those decisions are no longer what you could call intelligent. They’re certainly not valid.”

Pollution data gets taken into account when big highways projects—like the Ohio River Bridges Project—are proposed. Coyte says the fact that the data justifying the project is faulty should mean a closer look at possible environmental effects is necessary.

Erica Peterson

Erica Peterson reports on energy and the environment for WFPL.

@ericampeterson

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