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EPA Gives Kansas a Break on Air Quality Regulations

PRAIRIE-FIREPairie fires, like this one in the Flint Hills, can generate huge amounts of smoke and contribute to reduced air quality. (Photo by James Nedresky)

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Federal environmental regulators have given Kansas a little more breathing room to comply with air quality regulations. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday the Environmental Protection Agency granted its request to exclude four days from April 2011 when calculating air quality data that is averaged over three years. In a rare move, the EPA agreed with state regulators that prescribed burnings in the Flint Hills and drifting smoke from wildfires in Texas and Mexico on those four days skewed the data. The decision is important — particularly to Wichita and its surrounding counties — because the EPA could impose more stringent local regulations for non-compliance. That affects such things as the type of gasoline sold to pollution control equipment Kansas industries would have to install.

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