Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is urging state and federal regulators to exempt the City of Wichita from penalties resulting from last week’s Flint Hills smoke plume.
The annual range burning caused air quality readings in Wichita to exceed allowable levels set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Readings at monitors in Peck and Wichita on April 6 exceeded the allowable ozone level of .075 ppm. The reading at Peck, located just south of Wichita, reached .082 ppm and the reading in Wichita was .079 ppm.
“We recognize the absolute necessity for the range burning in the Flint Hills,” Mayor Brewer stated. “However, Wichita and our surrounding area should not be penalized for the short-term air quality problems that result from that event.”
Communities that exceed the current ozone standard are at risk of being classified as being in “nonattainment.” The designation results in the imposition of various corrective actions which would cost the Wichita community as much as $10 million annually.
“The City of Wichita is working with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to implement a statewide smoke management plan,” Mayor Brewer said. “That good-faith effort recognizes the need to minimize any health risks associated with the Flint Hills burning.”
States with smoke management plans can petition the EPA to “flag” isolated events such as the April 6 burn and request that the reading not be used in determining compliance with air quality standards.
“KDHE should aggressively pursue an appeal to EPA to exclude the April 6 readings,” Mayor Brewer said.