A wall of smoke invaded the Reno-Carson City area late Sunday afternoon as winds accompanying an outflow boundary spread eastward from showers and thunderstorms west of Reno and Carson City.

BLM Nevada Air Program

The BLM seeks to analyze, protect, and preserve air resources within its multiple use and sustained mission. This involves carrying out the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA) and ensuring that all activities the BLM conducts or authorizes comply with the Clean Air Act (CAA) and all other air quality federal, state, tribal, and local pollution laws and regulations.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP) have the authority, under the CAA, to regulate and maintain air quality standards within the State of Nevada. The BLM does not regulate air quality. However, the BLM does cooperate with these agencies to ensure activities it authorizes are in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. Air resources protection is an integral component of the BLM’s soil, water, and air program.

Project Story

BLM liaises and collaborates with a large number of organizations and agencies to address potential impacts of proposed land uses. For example, the BLM is a party to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) Among the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Regarding Air Quality Analyses and Mitigation for Federal Oil and Gas Decisions Through the National Environmental Policy Act Process. This MOU facilitates cooperation among these agencies regarding timely review and decisions about potential oil and gas exploration and development on public lands.

The BLM is also a member of the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), which is a partnership between federal, state, tribal, and local air agencies to facilitate coordinated efforts to moderate and/or reduce air quality pollution in the thirteen western states of the U.S. The WRAP has been instrumental in establishing the EPA Regional Haze Rule. This Rule calls for state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Great Smokies, and Shenandoah. 

Additionally, the BLM also participates in cooperative efforts with industry and local air agencies to:

  • Develop air quality emissions inventories for proposed activities such as oil and gas and minerals development;
  • Assess how potential BLM-authorized activities will affect local, state, and regional air quality;
  • Ensure that authorizations such as leases or permits include appropriate conditions of approval in accordance with the applicable CAA and other thresholds;
  • Assess how proposed actions, alternatives, resources, and resource uses may be affected by climate change; and,
  • Address how management can respond to the effects of climate change.

This process enables the BLM to continue authorizing diverse uses on public lands while protecting and preserving air resources.