Tribes, EPA announce clean air rule proposals


Last updated 10/19/2022 at 9:25am

Colville Business Council members, environmental staff and EPA leaders pose for a photo after speeches outside the Lucy Covington Government Center. Council Chair Jarred-Michael Erickson in the white shirt is flanked by EPA Deputy Administrator Janet McCabe, left, and Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller, right. - Scott Hunter photo

The Colville Tribes and top federal officials of the Environmental Protection Agency met Tuesday to discuss and announce proposed changes to air quality regulations that affect some Indian reservations, including the Colville Reservation.

The Federal Air Rules for Reservations (FARR) apply to all residents and businesses on or within 39 reservations in Washington, Oregon and Idaho.

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation hosted the EPA's deputy administrator, Janet McCabe, and Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller, and several of their staff Tuesday at the Lucy F. Covington Government Center.

The FARR have been in place since 2005, but after talking with tribes EPA is now proposing changes and seeking public comment on those proposals.

"It's fitting that we're here today with the Colville Tribes, to discuss these revisions, because you all are leaders in environmental work and really are leading the way across not just the Pacific Northwest, but across all of Indian Country," Sixkiller said in a remarks delivered just outside the government center.

"We are at an amazing time in this country," said Deputy Administrator McCabe, "... because people are realizing increasingly that climate change is upon us. And more and more people are understanding that we cannot do nothing.

She noted EPA is working around the country to improve water quality, wastewater and drinking water infrastructure, possible because of legislation championed by President Joe Biden and passed by Congress.

"Through the Inflation Reduction Act, billions of dollars are coming into this country to advance the clean energy transition, which is going to be so necessary to reduce climate change greenhouse gases and do what we can ... to continue to have a livable planet for our children, grandchildren, and seven generations."

But Tuesday's event was about announcing changes to FARR, instigated by listening to tribal concerns.

Colville Business Council Chair Jarred Michael Erickson noted concerns just discussed during lunch about EPA rules on burning that can make it difficult to balance air quality goals with keeping people warm in the winter or doing prescribed burns for forest health.

"We did appreciate EPA's continued expansion of tribal self-determination with the sovereign authority of tribes places us on parr with the state," he said. "The tribe does know best how to manage natural resources and people and look forward to expanding those tribal authorities over those additional rules."

Erickson said it meant a lot that EPA's administrators came to tribal land to continue collaboration.


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