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EPA, Wheeler Rock Products settle Clean Air Act permit violations

Industries need to be aware of federal requirements on reservations

Contact Information: 
Bill Dunbar (

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has settled a case it brought against Wheeler Rock Products, a rock crushing and concrete plant located on the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington, for the company’s failures to comply with requirements of the Clean Air Act.

“Businesses that intend to emit pollution have a responsibility to comply with all applicable laws,” said EPA Region 10 Office for Compliance and Enforcement Director Ed Kowalski. “Compliance includes such basics as notifying regulators of your existence, applying for permits, and doing the required testing of your equipment. These simple requirements are critical toward preventing harmful air pollution from impacting the health of community residents.”

The company has agreed to pay a penalty of $40,000 for failing to apply for required permits, failing to notify the EPA of the construction of its rock crusher, and failing to conduct emission tests when required. Additionally, Wheeler Rock Products failed to submit its annual registration to EPA, as required by the EPA’s Federal Air Rules for Reservations. The company has now obtained the required permits and has conducted the required tests.

Wheeler Rock Products constructed and began operation of a rock crushing operation and concrete batch plant in June of 2015 at a gravel pit in Wapato on the Yakama Reservation, but did not notify EPA of the new facility or obtain an EPA permit to operate. The company came into compliance with Clean Air Act requirements after the EPA issued a notice of violation on June 16, 2016. As a result of these violations, EPA was not able to ensure that the rock crushing operation met emission control requirements or to establish emission limits necessary to protect air quality on the Yakama Reservation.

EPA directly administers and enforces the Clean Air Act in Indian County - including the Yakama Reservation - unless the tribal government has an EPA-approved program of its own. Obtaining a tribal business license or land-use permit does not satisfy federal Clean Air Act requirements on reservations and a facility may still need to obtain a Clean Air Act permit from EPA. Additionally, certain facilities with the potential to emit more than two tons per year of any air pollutant (e.g., particulate matter, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides) must annually register their air pollution source with EPA. When a facility on a reservation fails to comply with the Clean Air Act requirements it may be subject to a federal penalty.

A copy of the Compliance Agreement and Final Order can be found here:$File/CAA-10-2018-0260%20Wheeler%20CAFO.pdf

More information about Federal Air Rules for Reservations can be found here: