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New Rules Proposed Providing Basic Air Quality Framework on Tribal Lands in the Northwest

Release Date: 3/19/2002
Contact Information: Regina Thompson and Debra Suzuki and
(206) 553-1498 and 206-553-0985

March 19, 2002 - - - - - - - - - - 02-013


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing new air quality rules for 39 Tribal reservations in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. The proposed rules would provide a basic framework of air quality protections on reservation lands in partnership with the Tribes. If adopted as proposed, those facilities subject to air quality rules on reservations will have a clearer picture of the federal Clean Air Act requirements they must meet.

The rules include a program for identifying air pollution sources, procedures to follow during air pollution emergencies, rules for open burning, and some emission limitations for industrial sources. The industrial source rules would regulate particulates, sulfur dioxide, and fugitive emissions. Once finalized, sources would have to comply with these new requirements upon the effective date of the final rule, and these new requirements would also be rolled into other permits issued by EPA to larger sources.

According to Barbara McAllister, EPA’s regional Air Quality Office Director in Seattle,
EPA is focusing its efforts on the sources that have been identified as potentially causing or contributing to air quality problems on reservations and their shared Pacific Northwest airsheds.

"We are proposing these rules to protect the people who live on or near Indian reservations in Washington, Idaho, and Oregon," Mcallister said. "They’ve been prepared in close consultation with many different stakeholders, including the tribal and state governments. We now need to hear from the public on how well we have focused on the problems and whether or not these rules will address them. "

Through the Clean Air Act, Congress gave EPA broad authority to protect air resources throughout the nation, including Indian reservations and other areas of Indian country. After consulting with the Tribes in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington, and the State governments, EPA Region 10 was concerned that a gap existed in air quality requirements in these areas. The rules EPA is proposing would be an important step in ensuring that basic air quality protection is in place to protect health and welfare on Indian reservations in the Pacific Northwest. These proposed requirements are similar to the types of rules found in the State Implementation Plans (SIP) that state and local air pollution control agencies have established in the areas surrounding the reservations.

The public comment period on this proposal is open for 90 days following publication in Federal Register publication, which occurred on March 15. To comment, please submit your written comments, by June 13, 2002, to:
David Bray
Office of Air Quality (OAQ-107)
U.S. EPA Region 10
1200 Sixth Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101-1128

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