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EPA's Region 6 Office

Serving: Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and 66 Tribal Nations

EPA's Region 6 News and Events

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EPA is Proposing to Approve that the Houston Area has Attained the Revoked 1-Hour Ozone Standard

EPA is proposing to approve that the State of Texas has demonstrated that the Houston-Galveston-Brazoria 1-hour ozone nonattainment area has attained the revoked 1-hour ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). EPA has developed a rule that terminates the State’s obligation to submit any outstanding planning obligations provided it meets the previous standard and will maintain it for 10 years with permanent and enforceable emission reductions.

Previously we revoked the 1-hour ozone standard in favor of the more protective, 8 hour ozone standard. EPA no longer requires the 1-hour ozone standard.

The HGB area consists of Brazoria, Chambers, Fort Bend, Galveston, Harris, Liberty, Montgomery and Waller counties in Texas.

The proposed action is subject to a 30 day public comment period after publication in the Federal Register (7-10 days from signature) and comment by the public. After careful consideration of comments, EPA will take final action.

Pueblo of Santa Ana Granted Federal Authority to Protect Water Quality

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently announced that the Pueblo of Santa Ana in N.M. has gained authority to administer its own water quality standards and certification programs under the Clean Water Act. The announcement was made at the Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) meeting at the Pueblo of Isleta, N.M. Santa Ana is the 50th tribe of 567 federally recognized tribes nationwide to receive authority over the water quality standards and certification programs.

Under the Clean Water Act, a tribe must be federally recognized, have a governing body, jurisdiction and capability in order to administer a water quality standards program. EPA’s approval of the tribe’s water quality standards program application is not an approval or disapproval of the tribe’s standards. EPA will review and take action on the tribe’s water quality standards in a separate agency action.

The goal of the Clean Water Act includes restoring and protecting the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation’s waters. Water quality standards established under the Clean Water Act set the tribe’s expectations for reservation water quality. These standards also serve as water quality goals for individual surface waters, guide and inform monitoring and assessment activities, and provide a legal basis for permitting and regulatory pollution controls.

The Environmental Protection Agency established the Tribal Operations Committee (TOC) in 1994 to assist EPA with the establishment of a national co-regulatory partnership. The intent of the TOC was to implement the 1984 Indian Policy by providing a forum for enhancing tribal environmental protection. The Region 6 RTOC was subsequently established to serve as a liaison between the TOC, the Tribes, and Region 6 on national policy issues and to articulate tribal concerns to senior managers and staff regarding regional issues.

On November 8, 1984, the EPA issued its Policy for the Administration of Environmental Programs on Indian Reservations. In doing so, the EPA became the first federal agency to adopt a formal Indian policy to guide its relations with tribal governments in the administration of its programs.

Final Action on the State of Louisiana's 2014 Clean Water Act §303(d) List

EPA is finalizing a complete list of Louisiana’s impaired water bodies for 2014 by adding 43 water body segments. EPA’s final action is the result of a comprehensive review of water quality standards, state water quality criteria and available data. EPA carefully reviewed public comment on its earlier proposal prior to taking final action. The Clean Water Act 303(d) list helps states develop long term pollution control plans to improve water quality to meet water quality standards. The proposed additions include three Gulf of Mexico coastal segments west of the mouth of the Mississippi River. The segments failed to meet the state’s water quality standard for dissolved oxygen, which is necessary to support fisheries and other aquatic life. The addition of these segments is consistent with the agency’s actions the past three listing cycles in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

The remaining 40 segments did not meet water quality standards for minerals and turbidity according to the state’s current standards and methods for determining impaired waters. EPA will continue to collaborate with Louisiana to address possible revisions to its standards and methods to ensure the list reflects the most up-to-date and accurate information.

A federal register notice will be published in 7-10 days.

EPA proposes to reissue a general permit for small municipal separate sewer systems in New Mexico

EPA has proposed to reissue a general permit for small municipal separate sewer systems (MS4) in the State of New Mexico. The permit requires cost effective pollution controls to protect valuable water resources throughout New Mexico.

After publication in the federal register, the proposed permit will have a 90 day public comment period. EPA will host a number of public meetings in New Mexico to discuss the revised permit requirements and answer questions at:

***Change in meeting dates and comment period extended to December 18, 2015***

El Paso Urbanized Area: Monday, November 16, 2015
1:00 pm – 2:30 pm MST
New Mexico State University
Dona Ana Community College-Sunland Park Campus
Room 102 - Auditorium
3365 McNutt Road
Sunland Park, NM 88063

Las Cruces Urbanized Area: Monday, November 16, 2015
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm MST
New Mexico State University
Dona Ana Community College-East Mesa Campus
Student Resource Building
2800 N. Sonoma Ranch Blvd.
Las Cruces, NM 88003

Los Lunas Urbanized Area: Tuesday November 17, 2015
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm MST
Holiday Inn Express Belen
2110 Camino del Llano
Belen, NM 87002

Santa Fe Urbanized Area: Wednesday, November 18, 2015
6:00 pm – 7:30 pm MST
The Lodge at Santa Fe
750 N. St. Francis Dr.
Santa Fe, NM 87501

Farmington Urbanized Area: Thursday November 19, 2015 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm MST
Courtyard Farmington
560 Scott Ave.
Farmington, NM 87401

***Change in meeting dates and comment period extended to December 18, 2015***

The permit requirements are designed to protect valuable rivers, lakes and streams from pollution carried by storm water run-off. Storm water is water from precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement when it rains or when snow and ice melt. The water drains into storm sewers and is usually not treated before it flows directly into valuable water resources. Storm water has been identified as the source of pollution for tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams across the country including rivers such as the Rio Grande, Santa Fe, Animas, San Juan, and La Plata.

The revised permit will cover discharges to small regulated MS4s in the Urbanized Areas of El Paso, Las Cruces, Los Lunas, Santa Fe, Farmington and other areas in the State of New Mexico. Excluded from this permit are those systems in Indian Country, Los Alamos County, and the area covered by the Albuquerque Urbanized Area Middle Rio Grande MS4 permit. The proposal also includes post construction pollution controls for storm water discharges.

New Mexico is only one of four states where EPA is responsible for issuing permits under the federal Clean Water Act. New Mexico has approximately 120 facilities that operate under individual permits issued by EPA. About 2,000 facilities operate under general permits issued by EPA in New Mexico. Currently, regulated New Mexico MS4s are located in the Albuquerque, Farmington, Las Cruces, El Paso, Los Lunas, and Santa Fe Urbanized Areas.

More about the draft permit and how to comment.

Whiteface, Texas students receive President’s Environmental Education Award for helping to eliminate Arsenic

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that eight middle school children from Whiteface, Texas won the President’s Environmental Youth Award for their work to fight arsenic—a public health threat. The awards are presented each year to exceptional students and teachers who demonstrate creativity, innovation, and leadership to address difficult environmental challenges.

“These remarkable young students and teachers are making a difference in their community and across Texas,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “I’m inspired to see such creative and inspiring work coming from young stewards.”

The team of six and seventh graders won the award for their three year-long environmental education and stewardship campaign to eliminate their catchphrase, “Arsenic—It’s What’s for Dinner.”

EPA Announces Camp Minden Remedy Can Move Forward

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in accordance with provisions of the Camp Minden Administrative Order, has notified the Louisiana Military Department that the Agency will not exercise its right to disapprove any or all contractors and/or subcontractors outlined in the state’s April 14 recommendation for the alternative disposal of materials at Camp Minden. EPA continues to support an alternative technology for disposal and is quickly working to conclude efforts necessary in helping the state finalize its plans.

“This action is another important next step in fulfilling our promise to the community to clear the way for an alternative technology to dispose of the materials abandoned by Explo and left deteriorating at the site,” said Ron Curry, EPA regional administrator. “We are extremely pleased that the state carefully considered the Dialogue Committee’s input in their review of vendors and final recommendation.”

LMD recommended Explosive Service International and their Contained Burn method of disposal be utilized for the disposal of the approximately 15 million pounds of M6 Propellant and 320,000 pounds Clean Burning Igniter. The recommendation includes accepting the advanced air pollution control options to maximize safety and flexibility in handling the rapidly decomposing materials and deteriorating storage and packaging materials. The EPA completed an extensive review of the state’s recommendation with the safety of the public as our most important consideration. The next deadline requires LMD to submit detailed work plans for conducing the disposal 30 days after they issue a notice to proceed or contract award whichever is earlier.

EPA Proposing Plan to Address Regional Haze for the State of Arkansas

This proposal establishes interim goals for the Clean Air Act to improve visibility. The goals are to improve existing conditions and to prevent future problems related to man-made air pollution in certain national parks and wilderness areas.

The Clean Air Act requires that states have adequate provisions to meet “good neighbor” requirements. These requirements ensure fairness and prohibit in-state emissions from interfering with visibility and health-based air quality standards in downwind states. This proposed Federal Implementation Plan and the portion of the Arkansas regional haze State Implementation Plan that we approved on March 12, 2012, together would ensure that progress is made toward natural visibility conditions at these Class I areas.

The proposal was signed on March 6 and will take 7-10 days to be published in the Federal Register. All public comments must be received on or before May 16, 2015.

Camp Minden

On October 15, 2012, one of 97 storage bunkers at the Camp Minden site near Minden, Louisiana exploded prompting investigations by the EPA, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Louisiana State Police, and other responders. The explosion shattered windows in the City of Minden, Louisiana (approximately 4 miles to the northeast), and generated a 7,000-foot mushroom cloud. Explo Systems was under contract with the Department of Army to demilitarize surplus munitions. The State Police found 15 million pounds of unsecured M6 propellant improperly stored outside of the bunkers and 8 million pounds of a variety of other explosives improperly stored inside bunkers.

The State Police directed Explo Systems, Inc., to temporarily secure the M6 in available bunkers. This was completed in May 2013. In August 2013, Explo Systems Inc. declared bankruptcy and the Louisiana National Guard took ownership of the explosives at the site. EPA initiated negotiations with all potential responsible parties to eliminate the risks posed by the 15 million pounds of M6 and other explosives.

The Army Explosive Safety Board advised that the deterioration of the remaining 15 million pounds of M6 propellant and other materials could greatly increase the risk of explosion over time. EPA recognizes that the legal negotiations that led to the current remedy approach and to the Administrative Settlement Agreement between Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, EPA and the Department of Army did not provide the opportunity for public comment. It is very clear that elected officials and the public want to be involved in examining alternative remedies.

On January 28, EPA announced its willingness to address community ideas and suggestions on alternatives to address dangerous conditions at Camp Minden. A Dialogue Committee made up of citizens, community leaders, local representatives and state officials was established to review alternatives.

On March 24, EPA released the latest Department of Army technical assistance visit report to the public. The visit was requested by Louisiana Military Department after discovering condensation inside one of the magazines storing materials at Camp Minden. The assistance visit of the Clean Burning Igniters and M6 propellant was completed from March 9 to 11, 2015.

EPA Issues Albuquerque-Area Permit to Protect Rio Grande River

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the Middle Rio Grande Watershed Based Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit that establishes requirements to reduce pollution carried by stormwater run-off and restore portions of the Middle Rio Grande River that are too polluted.

“As a New Mexican, I understand water is a vital resource in our state,” said Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “It is important that we take steps to improve water quality in the Rio Grande River and continue to replenish the groundwater that so many New Mexicans depend on for their drinking water.”

New Mexico is only one of four states where EPA is solely responsible for issuing permits under the federal Clean Water Act. New Mexico has approximately 135 wastewater and stormwater facilities that operate under individual permits issued by EPA. About 1300 dischargers operate under general permits issued by EPA.

What you can do about Climate Change

Driving a car, using electricity to light and heat your home, and throwing away garbage all lead to greenhouse gas emissions. You can reduce emissions through simple actions like changing a light bulb, powering down electronics, using less water, and recycling. There are more than 25 easy steps you can take at Home, School, the Office, and On the Road to protect the climate, reduce air pollution, and save money. Take action today! Small steps add up, if we all do our part.

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