Supported by local health and environmental activists, the Air Pollution Control Board in Louisville, Ky., made admirable history last week with the Strategic Toxic Air Reduction (STAR) program. Three years ago, according to the Courier-Journal
, the EPA rated the city’s air the worst in the entire Southeast, but as of July 1, Louisville will have some of the nation’s strongest, healthiest air quality standards. The plan will reduce 37 specific chemicals emitted by industrial activity; programs to reduce emissions from cars and other sources will be implemented soon.
Predictably, local business groups immediately began moaning about government regulation and warned of possible layoffs. But as the Courier-Journal reports, one air pollution official “cited a number of businesses, like United Parcel Service, that are expanding, investing or coming to Louisville as examples that the STAR program isn't hurting economic development.”
The program, with regulations surpassing EPA standards, recognizes that clean air is an asset that will attract business and residents to the area. And with a phased-in six-year plan for improving Louisville’s air, companies can know exactly what to expect and what it will cost.
The STAR program is a win-win that sets a national standard. Everybody wins when community health is improved and health care costs go down. Everybody wins when quality of life improves and more families and businesses decide to call that place home. Legislators across the country should pay close attention to how Louisville and Jefferson County thrive, and then take their lead from “The City of Parks’” courageous, commonsense plans for a healthy community.