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EPA delegates authority of air permit program to Navajo Nation

Release Date: 11/4/2004
Contact Information: Contact: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 947-4248,

First tribe in the nation to receive delegation

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced at a ceremony today that for the first time ever the agency has delegated authority to a tribe to administer an important air permits program under the Clean Air Act.

The Navajo Nation's Environmental Protection Agency will work with the EPA on a government-to-government basis to administer the Title V program, where permits are issued for major sources of air pollution, generally with the potential to emit pollutants over 100 tons per year. The delegation, which was signed by both the EPA and the tribe, covers new and existing major sources located on the formal Navajo Nation reservation and all tribal trust lands outside the formal reservation boundaries.

The delegation of the program means that the Navajo Nation will now administer the Title V program for the following sources: El Paso Natural Gas Window Rock Compressor Station, El Paso Natural Gas White Rock Compressor Station, El Paso Natural Gas Navajo Compressor Station, El Paso Natural Gas Leupp Compressor Station, El Paso Natural Gas Dilkon Compressor Station, Transwestern Pipeline Klagetoh Compressor Station, Transwestern Pipeline Leupp Compressor Station, El Paso Natural Gas Gallup Compressor Station, Conoco Phillips Wingate Fractionating Plant, Peabody Western Coal Black Mesa Complex, Chevron-Texaco Aneth Gas Plant, and the Exxon-Mobil McElmo Creek Unit.

"Today marks a great achievement for the Navajo Nation and is an important first step toward the tribe's development of an air quality control program," said Laura Yoshii, the EPA's deputy regional administrator for the Pacific Southwest region. "We will continue to work with the tribe to increase its environmental program capacity and to promote local environmental stewardship."

"This major accomplishment caps years of coordinated and combined efforts by the U.S. EPA, NNEPA, the Navajo Nation Council and the Navajo Department of Justice," said Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr. "I extend my appreciation to everyone for all their dedication and hard work."

The agreement covers all new and existing sources within the tribe's jurisdiction, except the Navajo Generating Station and the Four Corners Power Plant, where the EPA's Pacific Southwest Office in San Francisco will continue to oversee those permits. The Navajo Nation EPA is working with the two power plants to develop a voluntary compliance agreement.

The permit program requires these sources to get a five-year operating permit that includes emissions limits and compliance measures, such as monitoring, recordkeeping, reporting and testing to assure compliance with those limits. The EPA's San Francisco office has already issued most of the initial five-year permits for these facilities that the tribe will now oversee.

On June 16, the Navajo Nation EPA submitted a request to the U.S. EPA to be treated in the same manner as a state and requested on July 17 to have authority over the operating permits. The EPA reviewed both applications and determined that the Navajo Nation met the eligibility criteria.

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