- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

MUSCATINE, Iowa (AP) - A state panel has approved a plan under which three Muscatine County companies will take steps to limit emissions that contribute to air pollution.

Grain Processing Corp., Muscatine Power & Water and Monsanto Co. would adhere to more stringent emission limits and install new control technology under the plan, the Muscatine Journal reported (https://bit.ly/1TZFVCm ).

The plan, approved Tuesday by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Environmental Protection Committee, was designed in response to a 2013 ruling from federal regulators that found a portion of Muscatine County’s sulfur dioxide levels violated federal standards and were attributable to the companies.

High sulfur dioxide levels can cause difficulty breathing and worsen asthma symptoms. Children, the elderly and people with lung disease are most susceptible.

The federal Environmental Protection Agency standard for sulfur dioxide is 75 parts per billion. A state report showed that Muscatine averaged 275 ppb between 2011 and 2013.

Matthew Johnson, with the Iowa DNR’s Air Quality Bureau, said he expects the federal Environmental Protection Agency will accept the state’s plan for the companies.

Grain Processing already has taken a significant step toward helping to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by converting from coal to natural gas as the sole fuel source at its wet milling facility last year.

The same three companies also are participating in a federally mandated plan to reduce the amount of fine particle emissions into the Muscatine County air. That plan was approved by federal regulators in 2014.

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Information from: Muscatine Journal, https://www.muscatinejournal.com

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