Federal, state, tribal, and local agencies have many distinct roles and responsibilities with respect to air resource management, Multi-jurisdictional organizations, stakeholders in industry and the non-profit sector, and the public play important roles as well. The BLM works with partners to address local, regional and national air resource issues, engaging on both policy and technical levels.
Other Federal Agencies
In carrying out its varied roles and responsibilities, the BLM Air Resource Management Program works especially closely with two other agencies within the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI)—namely, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Park Service (NPS)—and with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the EPA.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)
FWS manages approximately 150 million acres of National Wildlife Refuge lands, and NPS manages approximately 84 million acres of National Park System lands. Specifically, FWS manages approximately 21 Class I wilderness areas, and NPS manages approximately 49 Class I national parks and wilderness areas. The Clean Air Act gives these agencies an affirmative responsibility to protect visibility and other AQRVs in the “Class I” areas under their respective management from the adverse effects of air pollution. Under other federal laws and associated policies, FWS and NPS are responsible for protecting the AQRVs of all of the lands that they manage, including Class I and Class II areas, for the enjoyment of future generations. Both FWS and NPS review air permit applications and NEPA documents for proposed new or expanding industrial facilities and other activities that would be located on or near FWS- or NPS-managed lands. FWS and NPS then determine whether air pollution from proposed facilities or activities would have an adverse effect on the lands that they manage.
U.S. Forest Service (USFS)
The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) is responsible for the surface management of 193 million acres of National Forest System lands that include varied uses, such as Federal oil and gas leases that grant exclusive rights for exploration and development and Class I areas. USFS evaluates National Forest System lands for potential oil and gas leasing. It also reviews air permit applications and NEPA documents for proposed new or expanding industrial facilities and other activities that would be located on or near USFS-managed lands to determine whether air pollution from those sources would have an adverse effect on those lands.
Through the NEPA process, the BLM coordinates with all of the other Federal land managers to analyze the potential impacts of proposed actions on FWS, NPS, or USFS-managed lands, to consider the other Federal land managers’ views, and to identify appropriate mitigation measures for adverse impacts. The BLM also exchanges information with the other Federal land managers and works with them to develop common resources to benefit each agency.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
EPA is the principal federal agency responsible for administering the Clean Air Act. Through the Headquarters Office of Air and Radiation (OAR) EPA develops and implements national programs, policies, and regulations that provide the regulatory framework for the BLM’s Air Program. These include the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
Ten EPA Regional Offices oversee state, tribal, and local implementation and enforcement of national Clean Air Act programs. For instance, EPA Regional Offices review State Implementation Plans (SIPs), state regulations developed to bring air quality within a state into attainment of the NAAQS for ozone and other “criteria” pollutants.
In addition, EPA is responsible for reviewing environmental impact statements (EIS) prepared by the BLM and other Federal agencies under section 309 of the Clean Air Act. The Office of Federal Activities (OFA) coordinates EPA’s review process from EPA Headquarters. Ten EPA regional offices review and rate federal agencies’ draft NEPA documents and prepare written comments. They work with federal agencies to seek opportunities to avoid and minimize environmental impacts, and to mitigate adverse environmental impacts.
The BLM Air Program follows EPA’s development of Clean Air Act regulations and policies that affect the BLM’s activities. The BLM exchanges ideas and information with EPA on areas for shared policy development or training, or on common challenges. BLM Air Resource Specialists also coordinate with other BLM personnel and EPA personnel to address any EPA comments concerning the BLM’s NEPA analyses or mitigation of potential impacts on air quality or AQRVs associated with proposed actions and the planning or project level.
State, Local and Tribal Agencies
State, local, and tribal air pollution agencies often take the lead in carrying out certain provisions of the Clean Air Act after receiving approval or delegation of their regulations or programs from EPA. In particular, state, local and tribal agencies:
Develop State Implementation Plans (SIPs) or Tribal Implementation Plans (TIPs) that outline how each state or tribe will control air pollution to bring air quality under its jurisdiction into attainment of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS). A SIP or TIP is a collection of the regulations, programs and policies that a state or tribe will use to meet the NAAQS, where air quality does not meet the NAAQS for one or more “criteria pollutants.”
Issue construction and operating permits to ensure that emissions from new or modified sources do not exceed health standards and that all sources operate in a manner that assures compliance with all applicable requirements.
Monitor air quality, inspect facilities and enforce Clean Air Act regulations.
Several air pollution effects — acid rain, smog, visibility impairment, mercury deposition — are associated with pollutants originating from sources located across broad geographic areas. Federal agencies, in partnership with States and Tribes across the U.S. are addressing these regional issues from a multi-jurisdictional perspective. For example, the BLM is collaborating with the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), a partnership of states, Tribes, Federal land managers, EPA, and local air agencies, to develop a regional air quality model for the western United States. The model will help Federal land managers improve the quality and reduce the costs of land use plan- and project-level National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) analyses. It will offer states, Tribes, and local air agencies a consistent tool for use in regulatory and permitting programs as well.