Bismarck and Fargo recognized for clean air by the American Lung Association

The American Lung Association recently released its “State of the Air” Annual Report for 2020, giving North Dakota “A” grades for lack of ozone, also known as smog.

Bismarck was ranked as one of the cleanest cities for its lack of ozone and 12th out of 25 cities for year-round particulate levels. In addition, Fargo was also among the top-ranked cleanest cities for lack of ozone.

“North Dakotans breathe some of the cleanest air in the United States, in part because of emissions control technologies at the state’s coal-based power plants,” said Jason Bohrer, president and CEO for the Lignite Energy Council.

Utilities in North Dakota have invested more than $2 billion in technology to protect the environment and spend about $100 million annually to operate it.

“The lignite industry has been a good neighbor,” Bohrer said. “The mines and plants are responsible for 14,000 jobs in North Dakota, $5.7 billion in total business activity, $130 million annually in state taxes and provides clean, affordable energy to more than two million people in the Upper Midwest while ensuring that mines and plants comply with federal and state environmental standards.”

The American Lung Association is not alone in its assessment of North Dakota’s air quality. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has also designated North Dakota as one of only 14 states to meet all of the nation’s strict federal ambient air quality standards.

The American Lung Association has compiled the annual report each of the past 20 years, using local data that is submitted to EPA. This year’s report covers the years 2016 to 2018. During this time period, the state experienced haze from out-of-state wildfires which led to a rise in particulate levels.

The American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report can be found at