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Air rule changes in works for Allegheny County

| Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012, 7:44 a.m.

The Allegheny County Board of Health is poised for a final vote Wednesday on air pollution controls, two months after some businesses urged board members to slow down and modify the rules.

County officials said Tuesday they modified the proposed policy but would not say what was changed from the previous measure. Health department spokesman Guillermo Cole said he could not release details of the proposal in advance of the meeting.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said changes take into account the state Department of Environmental Protection's compliance timelines. He said changes were made to models the county will use to calculate air toxicity levels.

“We've made some changes and modifications,” Fitzgerald said. “Not everybody gets what they want.”

A spokesman for PPG, one of the businesses on the drafting committee, said more changes are needed.

“While some modifications to the proposed guidelines have been made, PPG continues to believe that the proposed language is ambiguous and could impact PPG's ability to expand production and jobs at its Allegheny County facilities,” spokesman Jeremy Neuhart said. “PPG is committed to supporting a policy that drives meaningful environmental benefits with practical solutions.”

The board planned to vote in September to update the 24-year-old rules that limit the amount of mercury, benzene and other heavy metals and acid gases that startup or expanded businesses can put in the air. The rules changes have been seven years in the making.

Dr. Donald Burke, a member of the Board of Health who headed the committee that drafted the proposal, said he would not comment in advance of the meeting.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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