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EPA staffer briefs APA on new air pollution regs

A top official with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was in the Adirondacks over the weekend to meet with environmental professionals about a variety of regional threats, from air pollution to invasive species.

Judith Enck addressed the state Adirondack Park Agency board of commissioners during Thursday’s regular monthly meeting.

Enck is a regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

During a meeting with state Adirondack Park Agency commissioners Thursday, she confirmed that a cross-state air pollution rule would be taking effect by 2014.

“So because of this regulation, by 2014, sulfur dioxide emissions will be cut by 73 percent and nitrogen oxide emissions will drop by 54 percent,” Enck said.

“That’s just in time for Adirondack lakes that have been so harmed by acid rain, and that’s just a perfect illustration of why you need a strong national program, because states alone can not take action against out-of-state air pollution – but EPA can.”

Fred Monroe, who represents the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, asked Enck about the EPA’s commitment to fighting invasive species.

“One of the greatest concerns we have in Adirondack local government is invasive species, particularly the aquatic ones,” Monroe said. “We’re now faced in Warren County with this Asian clam infestation and we want to jump on it but it seems like it’s beyond local government’s ability to deal with this.”

Enck said the EPA recognizes the seriousness of the problem, both to the environment and local economies.

For instance, she points to a grant awarded to Paul Smith’s College to fight invasive species in the Great Lakes.

“The EPA is providing a very substantial grant to Paul Smith’s College to deal with aquatic invasive species,” she said.

But she said like other government agencies, the EPA is facing funding cuts that could reign in some of its initiatives.

“We had to make some pretty significant mid-year cuts this year,” Enck said. “EPA funding will [be going down], and it will require us to prioritize.”

But she added that she does not expect the cuts to be enough to affect the EPA’s core mission.

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