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News Releases from Region 07

Lancaster County, Nebraska, Proposed for Attainment of National Sulfur Dioxide Air Quality Standard

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David Bryan, APR (

Environmental News


EPA seal(Lenexa, Kan., Aug. 10, 2020) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has notified the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) that EPA proposes the redesignation of the entire Lancaster County, Nebraska, area to attainment/unclassifiable, demonstrating attainment of the 2010 1-hour Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) under the Clean Air Act. Attaining the standard means cleaner air, improved health outcomes, and greater economic opportunities for cities and communities.

“Air quality standards are important to the health and welfare of Nebraska citizens,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Jim Gulliford. “This achievement shows the continued cooperation and commitment by EPA and NDEE toward ensuring these standards are met.”

Under President Trump, combined emissions of criteria and precursor pollutants in the U.S. have dropped 7% and the amount of SO2 in our air decreased 10%. Nationally, since the beginning of the Trump administration, EPA has redesignated 52 areas from nonattainment (or “unclassifiable”) to attainment for the criteria air pollutants that make up the NAAQS. This proposed redesignation, when finalized, will continue that progress.

NDEE Director Jim Macy affirmed support for the proposed designation of Lancaster County, stating, “Our agency continues to work with stakeholders, industry, and our local and federal partners to comply with national air quality standards. This designation will further reassure our public that the air in Nebraska is healthy for our citizens.”

The Lancaster County area encompasses the Sheldon Station power plant, the main source of SO2 in the area. The area was designated as unclassifiable in July 2016, because EPA did not have enough information to determine if the standard was met. NDEE installed a new SO2 monitor and began collecting data on Jan. 1, 2017.

The new monitor recorded an ambient SO2 3-year design value of 29 parts per billion from January 2017 through December 2019, demonstrating monitored attainment well under the SO2 1-hour standard of 75 parts per billion. Subsequently, NDEE submitted a redesignation request in May 2020 that EPA is proposing to approve.

The Nebraska redesignation is part of an announcement of proposals for redesignation in four states, including Missouri, Ohio and Texas.

EPA will accept public comments on this proposed action for 30-days after it publishes in the Federal Register. Comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2020-0292, may be submitted by one of the following methods:

  • Go to and follow the online instructions for submitting comments.
  • Send comments by email to, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2020-0292.
  • Out of an abundance of caution for members of the public and our staff, the EPA Docket Center and Reading Room are closed to the public, with limited exceptions, to reduce the risk of transmitting COVID-19. Our Docket Center staff will continue to provide remote customer service via email, phone and webform.

EPA encourages the public to submit comments via or email, as there may be a delay in processing mail and faxes. Hand deliveries and couriers may be received by scheduled appointment only. For further information on EPA Docket Center services and the current status, please visit us online at


In June 2010, EPA set a 1-hour average, health-based national air quality standard for SO2 at 75 parts per billion. The revised standard improves public health protection, especially for children, the elderly, and people with asthma. These groups are susceptible to health problems, including narrowing of the airways, which can cause difficulty breathing and increased asthma symptoms, associated with breathing SO2.

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