SAN FRANCISCO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is finalizing approval of the Gila River Indian Community’s Tribal Implementation Plan, a blueprint of how to achieve improved air quality on the Community’s lands which will serve as a model for other tribes. The plan provides a framework for protecting air quality on the Reservation, including ordinances, a permit program, civil and criminal enforcement, air monitoring, and an emissions inventory.
“Gila River has done a fantastic job of developing an air quality plan that is unrivalled nationally in both breadth and depth,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s administrator for the Pacific Southwest. “Gila River is the first Tribe to accept such a high level of substantial responsibility for air quality on their reservation. This plan can serve as a model to tribes nationwide.”
The Wednesday Jan. 19 signing ceremony will feature Governor Rhodes of Gila River, Gila River Tribal Council members, the EPA Region 9 Regional Administrator, and the Gila River Department of Environmental Quality, as well as the EPA staff who worked on the plan, and invited guests.
The Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality has spent the last 12 years developing and implementing the Plan to protect air quality on tribal lands. In addition, the Gila River Tribe developed a team of environmental professionals, the majority of whom are Native American, to administer and enforce this plan. EPA’s action today makes the plan federally enforceable.
Other environmental innovations introduced by the Gila River tribe include:
• Specific ordinances for local businesses and industries such as aluminum extrusion plants, an explosives manufacturer, several sand and gravel operations, and chemical supply companies;
• Regulations that cover dust emissions, and the storage and handling of metal cleaners.
Located in central Arizona, the Gila River Indian Community encompasses over 600 square miles, and has three industrial parks, extensive agricultural lands, and three casinos.