U.S. EPA approves tribes’ authority to develop water quality standards, issue air permits
SAN FRANCISCO — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Pacific Southwest Regional office announced the approval of applications to develop water quality standards by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Karuk Tribe, Quartz Valley Indian Reservation, San Carlos Apache Tribe, and Yerington Paiute Tribe. This decision comes in the form of approvals of requests by the tribes for “treatment in a similar manner as a state” (TAS) under the federal Clean Water Act. EPA also announced the approval of Navajo Nation’s application for expanded authority to issue permits for stationary sources of air pollution.
John Busterud, EPA’s Pacific Southwest Regional Administrator, presented Certificates of Achievements to the tribes in a ceremony at the 28th Annual Tribal/EPA Conference, which is concluding this week.
“We are pleased to recognize the tribes’ authority to protect water and air quality on their tribal lands,” said Mr. Busterud. “These tribes will continue to safeguard the health and heritage of their tribal communities and natural resources.”
EPA’s water quality standards TAS decision promotes tribal self-government, empowering the tribes to develop EPA-approved water quality standards and to issue water quality certifications to protect tribal waters.
The air permitting TAS approval expands the Navajo Nation’s authority so that it can permit sources of air pollution in the Former Bennett Freeze area. In 2004, Navajo Nation became the first tribe to receive this delegated authority and currently has 13 active permits throughout the reservation.
There are now 24 tribes in EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region with water quality standards authority. With this authority, these tribes can develop water quality standards for their waters within their reservations, similar to the process used by states under Sections 303 and 401 of the Clean Water Act. After the tribes develop, and EPA approves, the standards, the tribes will administer surface water quality standards, building upon existing successful environmental programs.
For more information on Treatment as a State, and for a list of tribes with the same designation, please visit: https://www.epa.gov/tribal/tribes-approved-treatment-state-tas