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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Progress Report 2011:
Clean Air

Clearing the Skies in Arizona

For decades, people moved to Arizona for their health, but air pollution grew along with cities and power plants. EPA is working with state, local and tribal partners to make Arizona’s air clean and healthful again.

Phoenix Dust Causes Health Problems

Coarse particulate pollution (known as PM-10) reached unhealthy levels in Phoenix, the nation’s fifth-largest city, 11 times in 2008. These particles, 1/7 the width of a human hair, can worsen asthma and cause heart and respiratory ailments, especially in children and the elderly.

In January 2011, Arizona withdrew its existing PM-10 control plan to work with EPA and local governments to strengthen it even further. Controls on sources of dust in the Phoenix metro area remain in effect.

“Working with Arizona state and regional agencies, we can develop a practical plan that protects public health,” said Colleen McKaughan, EPA’s Arizona-based regional associate director. EPA provides Arizona $30 million annually for air quality.

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Healthier Air at Gila River

In January 2011, EPA approved the 600-square-mile Gila River Indian Community’s blueprint for better air quality. The plan includes specific ordinances for industries like aluminum extrusion plants, an explosives manufacturer, sand and gravel operations, and chemical supply companies, as well as regulations on dust, a permit program, enforcement, and air monitoring.

“This plan can serve as a model to tribes nationwide,” said EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld, at a signing ceremony with Gila River Governor William Rhodes. Learn more »

Clearing the Air at Four Corners

Pollution from coal-burning power plants affects public health and obscures the landscape in the scenic Four Corners region, home to 16 national parks and wilderness areas. In October 2010 EPA proposed to require the most stringent air pollution controls possible on all five units of the Four Corners Power Plant on the Navajo Nation, to reduce nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions by 80%.

The power plant owners suggested an alternative that would reduce emissions even more – by 87% – and prevent any job or revenue loss to the Navajo Nation. EPA then proposed this alternative in February 2011. Under the alternative, this facility, the nation’s largest source of NOx, would cut emissions from 45,000 to 5,800 tons annually.

In addition to reducing visibility, NOx forms ozone (smog) and particles. Children, the elderly, people with asthma, and outdoor workers are at risk from these pollutants.

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