BATON ROUGE- State and local leaders are speaking out about proposed changes the Environmental Protection Agency made to air quality. Governor Bobby Jindal called the changes a job killer and said if the new regulations take effect, the impact would be far reaching on Louisiana.
The changes would limit the amount of ozone depleting chemicals emanating through smokestacks or tailpipes.
"This not only will drive up energy costs, it could hurt our jobs and economic development in the capital region," Governor Bobby Jindal said.
After years of noncompliance, Baton Rouge reached compliance called "attainment" in 2011. It happened after the Capital region managed to cut back on ground level ozone contaminants which improved air quality. Now, some worry the new regulations could set that hard work back and even eliminate jobs.
"By encouraging companies to go overseas and invest elsewhere with countries with weaker regulations, that's worse for the environment," Jindal said. "We have some of the strictest rules in the world right here in America. Why would we want to push these companies overseas? It's bad for our economy and bad for the environment."
"An incredible renaissance is in Baton Rouge and across south Louisiana," Adam Knapp with the Baton Rouge Chamber said. "You'll have a difficult time to convince manufacturers to expand in the United States much less south Louisiana."Environmental activists applaud the proposed regulations that mandate cleaner air. They say the talk of Louisiana losing jobs and industry is nothing more than a scare tactic.
"I've been hearing this story about industry for almost three decades," Mary Lee Orr with the Louisiana Environmental Action Network said. "It has not come true. Every time they say there's a new regulation, they say we can't do that when in fact they can."
Orr believes all sides can compromise without people having to worry about the air they breathe.
"I have faith in industry that they will comply, continue their projects and we'll have a good economy," Orr said.
A round of public hearings will be held on the proposed changes. If approved, the changes will take effect in October.