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Release Date: 6/5/2000
Contact Information: Dave Schmidt, 415-744-1578

Agency Calls for Public Comments

     SAN FRANCISCO --  The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency today officially proposed to disapprove Clark County's plan for controlling particulate matter air pollution, and to deny the County's request for a five-year extension of its deadline for meeting the particulate public health standard.  The deadline for attaining the standard is December 31, 2001.

     "The goal here is air that is consistently safe to breathe," said Felicia Marcus, the EPA's regional administrator.  "We have more work ahead of us to clean the air and protect public health.  EPA is committed to working with the state and local agencies, and environmental and business communities to bring healthy air to all the people of Clark County.  Since the County has a new plan well underway with so many agencies and stakeholders involved, we're optimistic the job can be done."

     Already, the Clark County Department of Comprehensive Planning and the Clark County Health District have been developing a new particulate plan for the Las Vegas Valley, and working with EPA to ensure that it will be approvable.   The county is expected to submit the plan to EPA later this year.  The new plan would include measures enabling the county to move quickly towards attaining the national health standards.  The county may be also be eligible for an extension of the attainment deadline, if certain criteria are met.
     Today's proposed plan disapproval will not trigger any sanctions.  When EPA publishes a final disapproval notice, the effective date of that notice will start the 18-month time clock for mandatory offset sanctions.  After 2 years from the final disapproval date, if EPA has not received a PM-10 plan, highway sanctions take effect, together with a  federal implementation plan.  Since EPA expects the new plan to be submitted sometime this summer, sanctions are unlikely.

     While there has always been wind-blown dust in the Valley's desert environment, increasing urbanization is now the major source of particulate air pollution.  Unpaved roads, disturbed soil in vacant lots, and construction activities, all add to the Valley's air quality problems.

     Particulate air pollution can affect breathing and cause lung damage, increased respiratory disease, and possibly premature death.  Children, the elderly, and people with heart or lung diseases, like asthma, are especially at risk.

     EPA is now asking for public comments on this proposal.  Written comments may be
submitted to EPA for sixty days following the date of publication in the Federal Register, at: U.S. EPA AIR-2, 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105, attn: Larry Biland. Information will be available today on the Web at .  

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