MILWAUKEE (AP) - Wisconsin will ask federal authorities to lift some air regulations throughout the state because air quality has improved, which could help many large businesses.
By the middle of next month, Wisconsin will ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to declare eight counties - including six in southeastern Wisconsin - to be compliant with federal standards for ozone.
The state's longstanding violation of ozone levels has stifled growth for large companies, said Allen Shea, the top air regulator for the state's Department of Natural Resources.
Big companies in regions where ozone levels are too high have been forced to make reductions elsewhere in their plants, or companies had to buy the value of the reductions from another company that made cuts. But often those reductions weren't available for sale.
''We think that this is going to remove some significant barriers to this part of the state,'' said Scott Manley, director of environmental policy for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, the state's largest business group.
But the request would not change anything for motorists and some fear it could impact a proposed commuter train line connecting Milwaukee with southern suburbs.
If the regulations were lifted, drivers would still have to use reformulated gas and have their emissions tested as required by federal law.