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EPA grants Clean Air Act authority to Bad River Band

Release Date: 02/09/2005
Contact Information:

CONTACT: William Omohundro, (312) 353-8254

For Immediate Release
No. 05-OPA008


EPA Acting Regional Administrator Bharat Mathur (right) and Bad River Band Tribal Chairman Donald Moore, Sr., hold the certificate presented to the tribe at ceremonies Feb. 9 at the tribal center in Odonah, Wis. [NOTE: A high-resolution version of this photo is available.]
CHICAGO (Feb. 9, 2005) — U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 has recognized the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa as the first tribe in Wisconsin to be granted authority to administer parts of the Clean Air Act in a manner similar to states.

EPA Region 5 Acting Administrator Bharat Mathur signed the decision document and presented a certificate to celebrate the action to Bad River Band leaders Feb. 9 at the tribal center in Odanah, Wis.

"This action opens the way for the Bad River Band to seek available authority under the Clean Air Act to protect our nation's vital air resources as a sovereign partner with EPA," Mathur said.

As a result of today's action, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and EPA must give the Bad River Band advance notice of any Clean Air Act Title 5 operating permit applications they receive for air pollutant sources within 50 miles of the reservation boundaries. The tribe would then be able to review and comment on certain aspects of these permits, and those comments may be taken into consideration before issuing the final permits.

In addition, instead of having to provide a 40 percent match for its outdoor air quality monitoring program grants, the tribe's match will be cut to 5 percent. After two years, EPA could raise the match to 10 percent if it's determined that the tribe can afford the increase. The tribe now collaborates with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources on a project to monitor for particulate matter and ozone.

This additional grant eligibility allows the tribe to seek approval to not only develop, but to implement air pollution control programs such as burn barrel and open burning ordinances, and smoke management and regional haze rules.

The action is the culmination of several years work on the part of the region and the tribe. The tribe began discussions with the region in 2000. The discussions gained momentum in the summer of 2002 when the tribe presented EPA with a draft proposal. In 2004 the tribe formally submitted a complete, final application to the regional administrator for this authority. Nationwide, 20 out of 575 federally recognized tribes have such authority.