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EPA Improves Clean-Air Permitting in Indian Country/ Action protects public health, allows for public participation and fosters economic development in Indian Country

Release Date: 06/13/2011
Contact Information: Enesta Jones (News Media Only), jones.enesta@epa.gov, 202-564-7873, 202-564-4355

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today finalized rules to ensure that Clean Air Act permitting requirements are applied consistently to facilities in Indian country to better protect the health of people living near them. This action will provide tribes with the tools they need to ensure that newly built or expanding facilities meet these requirements, while giving industries the flexibility to choose the most practical and cost effective way to do so. These sensible steps were developed after considering public input from key stakeholders including tribes, industry, and states. Pollutants covered under these permits, such as sulfur dioxide and particles, can cause a number of serious health problems including aggravated asthma, increased emergency room visits, heart attacks and premature death.

"These actions will limit harmful pollutants, provide the health protections tribal families deserve and allow for an open and transparent permitting process,” said Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Air and Radiation. "The actions also bring clean air permitting programs for Indian country in line with state and federal programs."

Today’s actions lay out clear requirements for issuing clean air permits to sources in Indian country and set specific timelines for phasing them in. The rules establish the federal process to issue permits to large sources, those emitting more than 100 tons per year, in areas of Indian country that do not meet national air quality standards, and to register smaller sources, those emitting less than 100 or 250 tons per year in all areas of Indian country. A rule already in place lays out requirements for EPA to issue permits to major sources in areas of Indian country that meet national air quality standards. The new rules fill an important gap in the nation’s air program that will foster economic development in Indian country in a way that protects the health of tribes, a group that shares the same environmental justice concerns as other low-income and minority communities.

The preconstruction air permitting program, also called New Source Review or “NSR,” ensures air quality is maintained when industrial facilities are built or modified. The program ensures that appropriate emission control technology is installed at new plants or existing plants that undergo a modification.

More information: http://www.epa.gov/nsr