Our View:Governor showing some support for the Delta

We all know that Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson wasn’t the favorite choice among registered Crittenden County voters during the last gubernatorial contest, especially in West Memphis where the demographics clearly show the dependence upon liberal Democratic candidates who make grandiose promises on the taxpayers dime. Nevertheless, Gov. Hutchinson has clearly demonstrated a non-partisan approach in executing his agenda for moving Arkansas forward and that has certainly included Crittenden County. For example, Gov. Hutchinson was very active in playing a role in convincing Tennessee Department of Transportation to postpone its controversial I-55 construction project that would have closed down traffic crossing what we locals identify as the “Old Bridge.” And, we expect the governor will play a role in how TDOT officials will proceed with their project that we’re now being told will involve some lane closures that will sure to cause major traffic issues for motorists trying to cross the Mississippi River from both east and west directions. Meanwhile, Hutchinson is also showing his concern with the Environmental Protection Agency’s troublesome labeling of Crittenden County as being designated a “marginal non-attainment area.” As we are all aware, areas in non-attainment are subject to more stringent air-quality controls. Furthermore, such a labeling is a serious hindrance to Crittenden County and especially the City of West Memphis in any attempt to successfully attract new business and industry. As most of us who are concerned about economic development in our county, we were excited to learn the other day that Gov. Hutchinson has taken it upon himself to ask the EPA to designate our county as being in compliance with federal ozone standards. In a letter to EPA Region 6 Administrator Ron Curry, Gov. Hutchinson said ozone monitoring for 2012-2014 clearly shows that Crittenden County “has attained and continues to attain” compliance. “The majority of reductions have been realized from federal measures related to mobile sources and electrical power generation. In addition, continuing new emission control programs will help to ensure a further decrease in emissions throughout the area in the future,” Hutchinson said in the letter. Also we’re told, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality said the state is submitting a maintenance plan to the EPA outlining measures to keep the area in compliance for at least the next 10 years. The plan includes measures such as truck-stop electrification, which keeps trucks from idling; use of alternative fuels; carpool lots; and public transportation improvement. ADEQ Director Becky Keogh came out and said her agency is urging EPA to take swift action given the area’s status as a critical transportation and economic corridor in the state. It is hoped that a decision from the EPA can and will be made within the next six months, a time frame state officials feel will give them ample time to review the monitoring data and maintenance plan. We should all be encouraged over the governor’s action and await a positive response from the EPA.

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