January 2015: Indiana’s Air Quality and Manufacturing
Some people mistakenly believe that Indiana has poor air quality. The truth is that Indiana attained the national standards for all six criteria air pollutants in 2009, and our air quality is continuing to improve.
When it comes to the amount of air emissions produced from manufacturing, a look at all states shows that Indiana is ninth best overall. This indicates that while Indiana manufacturers produce a lot of goods, they do it very efficiently, with relatively little air pollution.
Part of the misperception about Indiana’s air quality may be due to the fact that Indiana has a lot of manufacturing, and industry is associated with air pollution. Indiana does produce a lot of steel, cement and automobiles. It has two refineries. Indiana also grows and processes quite a bit of grain. Manufacturing activities do put out air pollutants.
States that do not manufacture items rely on states like Indiana to produce the goods they need or demand. It is unfair for those non-manufacturing states to complain about air pollution from manufacturing states at the same time that they demand and use the goods we produce.
In response to such complaints, this column examines how much air pollution each state emitted in 2011 in comparison with how much manufactured goods each state produced during the same year.
The emissions data came from the U.S. EPA National Emission Inventory (NEI), which is updated every third year and was most recently updated in 2011. This column looks at state total emissions for five of the criteria air pollutants: fine particles (PM-2.5), sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and carbon monoxide (CO).
Data for goods produced in 2011 were obtained from the STATS Indiana website. The emission value for each pollutant for each state (in tons per year) was divided by the goods produced (in $ million per year) to obtain a value related to how efficiently (cleanly) goods are produced. For each state the values were ranked from best (1) to worst (51). The five rankings were summed to obtain an overall value which was then ranked.
The table below shows each state, the amount of goods produced per year in 2011, the ranking for each pollutant, and the overall ranking.
Indiana’s highest rating (38) is for SO2. Indiana relies heavily on coal fired electrical generation. As some of these plants are closed or converted to natural gas over the next few years, Indiana’s ranking should improve even more.
At the same time our air quality is improving, U.S. EPA has further reduced the permissible levels of pollutants. As a result, some areas that met the previous standards do not meet these new standards, even though the actual levels have continued to decline on average. Indiana will continue its work to improve air quality even further.
|Ranking of Pollution/Manufactured Goods - 2011|