EPA Approves Pueblo of Laguna for Tribal Assumption of Federal Laws Related to Clean Air Act Notifications
DALLAS (Sept. 19, 2019) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved the Pueblo of Laguna’s application for treatment in a manner similar to a state (“treatment as a state” or TAS) for two non-regulatory Clean Air Act programs. This approval requires the pueblo to be notified about certain federal and state actions related to air regulations.
“The Pueblo of Laguna has taken an important step in ensuring that it plays a greater role in the environmental decisions affecting its communities,” said Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “I commend the Pueblo for its hard work and look forward to partnering on future efforts.”
The TAS status requires EPA to notify the pueblo about participating in the process of redesignating areas under the pueblo’s jurisdiction according to their attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The TAS also requires the state of New Mexico to notify the pueblo about new or modified sources of pollution and gives the pueblo the ability to petition the state.
To receive TAS approval, the pueblo had to meet certain legal requirements, including demonstrating that they carry out substantial governmental duties and powers and have the capability to fulfil their proposed new functions. The pueblo has an established Department of Environmental and Natural Resources that develops and administers its air programs. EPA previously granted TAS approval to the pueblo for certain Clean Air Act programs and approved water quality standards for the pueblo.
Several federal environmental laws authorize EPA to treat eligible federally recognized Indian tribes in a similar manner as a state for implementing and managing certain environmental programs. The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Safe Drinking Water Act expressly provide the authority for Indian tribes to play essentially the same role in Indian country that states do within state lands. Tribes must apply for and receive TAS approval for each specific program or function.
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