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EPA settles with natural gas company for $57,750 for Clean Air Act violations on Navajo Land

Release Date: 9/24/2004
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, 415-947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that a natural gas company has agreed to pay a $57,750 penalty to settle alleged Clean Air Act violations stemming from one of its New Mexico facilities.

    El Paso Natural Gas failed to test the nitrogen oxide emissions from a generator, located on the Navajo Nation, within 180 days of receiving an EPA permit.  The test, which determines if emissions fall within allowable limits and comply with Clean Air Act regulations, was performed 25 months after it was due.

     When the company retested the generator at the EPA's request in February 2004, results showed that the generator emitted approximately twice the amount of the applicable Clean Air Act permit limit of nitrogen oxides.  The allowable limit is 2.97 pounds per hour.

    The company also failed to submit quarterly reports on its hours of operation and periods it failed to meet federal air quality regulations from January 2001 through July 2003.

    "The EPA is committed to ensuring good air quality on tribal lands," said Deborah Jordan, the EPA's Air Division director for the Pacific Southwest Region.  "We will vigorously pursue enforcement against companies that violate environmental laws or operating permits."

    Nitrogen oxides can travel long distances, causing a variety of health and environmental problems in locations far from their emissions source. These problems include ozone and smog, which are created in the atmosphere from nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and sunlight.  Nitrogen oxide can cause serious respiratory problems and exacerbate cases of childhood asthma.

    In December 2000, the EPA issued the company's facility a "Title V" operating permit, which seeks to clarify, in a single document, which Clean Air Act requirements apply to a single emissions source.  The Clean Air Act requires facilities to submit annual compliance certifications and bi-annual monitoring reports as required by their Title V operating permits.

    EPA inspectors discovered during a routine file review in 2002 that El Paso Natural Gas failed to submit required reports -- violating  its permit.

    Under the settlement, El Paso Natural Gas will replace the generator that failed the test and will test the replacement generator for both carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emissions.

    For more information on the Title V operating permits program, visit EPA's Web site at:

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