Inter-Tribal Environmental Council
Overview of ITEC Clean Air Program

 With five air monitoring sites located within tribal jurisdictional boundaries in Oklahoma, the CNEP Clean Air Program operates one of the largest tribal air monitoring networks in the country.  Criteria pollutants being monitored include ozone, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter.  Meteorological parameters monitored include temperature, humidity, wind speed and wind direction, and precipitation.  They also operate a mobile monitor that rotates to various tribes and pueblos within Region 6; it is equipped to monitor ozone, particulate matter and meteorological parameters.  The Stilwell site has been designated as a rural NCore site, and a Tekran continuous mercury analyzer is operated at this location.  The Clean Air Program also participates in national programs such as CASTNet, IMPROVE, and the Mercury Deposition Network (MDN). Past program initiatives have included GIS mapping of tribal trust land, creating an inventory of major and minor sources for ITEC member tribes, reviewing new and/or modified major source permits that have been issued by the state, and providing technical assistance and training to the member tribes related to air quality monitoring.


The CNEP Air Program received a 2006 Clean Air Excellence Award in the category of Community Action. The award ceremony was held in May 2007 in Washington, D.C. at the National Museum of the American Indian.










History of the Clean Air Program

The Clean Air Acts

The 1970 Clean Air Act defined two principal types of air pollutants for regulation: criteria air pollutants and hazardous air pollutants. These pollutants culminate from numerous as well as diverse mobile and stationary sources. The criteria pollutants are carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, ozone, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), lead and particulate matter. There are approximately 188 identified, hazardous air pollutants which can cause serious health and environmental effects. The goal of the 1970 Clean Air Act was to establish national ambient air quality standards for the air pollutants. By substantially reducing air emissions from these stationary and mobile sources, an ample margin of safety was provided to protect the public's health and the environment.

The 1990 Clean Air Act was a revision of the original 1963 Act, which was amended in 1970 and again in 1977. The new 1990 Clean Air Act was designed as a technology based program rather than a health based program like the earlier acts. The new act placed the burden of permitting and compliance on the U.S. EPA and state agencies.

The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments

Title I Attainment and Maintenance of Air Quality Standards

Title II Mobile Sources

Title III Hazardous Air Pollutants

Title IV Acid Deposition Control

Title V Operating Permits

Title VI Stratospheric Ozone Protection

Title VII Enforcement

On July 16, 1997, the EPA issued new air quality health standards for fine particulates (soot) and ozone (smog). They are now being implemented by the states and tribes throughout the country. However, the new standards will not be fully implemented until at least the year 2003. The new standards are the result of a class action lawsuit against the EPA and brought about by the American Lung Association. The American Lung Association sued the EPA for its failure to review the existing standards. Under provisions of the Clean Air Act, the EPA had been required to review the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) every five years.

As part of the new standard and the EPA's national initiative, ITEC collaborated with the EPA Region VI Office and various tribes to develop a tribal fine particulate (PM2.5) network in Oklahoma. As a result, PM2.5 monitoring sites were set-up for the Cherokee Nation, Cheyenne-Arapaho, Delaware in Western Oklahoma, Pawnee, Ponca, Quapaw, Sac & Fox Nation and Seminole tribes. Site selections were based on the state's existing monitors (avoiding redundancy) and the tribes' willingness to participate. Four of these tribes have assumed the management and operation of their own monitoring sites.

Environmental Role

On January 24, 1983, President Reagan published a federal Indian policy that affected American Indian reservations and tribal governments. It also defined the federal government's primary role in regards to them. That policy stressed two related themes: 1) the federal government will pursue the principle of Indian "self-governance" and 2) will work directly with tribal governments on a "government to government" basis.

In 1994, the U.S. EPA Office became the first federal agency to adopt a formal Indian policy. The core principle of this policy were a commitment to working with federally recognized tribes on a government-to-government basis and enhance environmental protection. As a result, several statutes were either amended or developed to address Indian environmental issues and provide tribal funding. One, the Tribal Air Rule (TAR), "Indian Tribes: Air Quality Planning and Management," was published in the Federal Register on Thursday, February 12, 1998. This rule allowed tribes to develop Clean Air Projects and Programs.