EPA Approves Tribal Air Quality Plan
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has approved the air quality plan drafted by the Gila River Indian Community, a reservation located just east of the Phoenix metro area in Arizona. The Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality has spent 12 years developing the Tribal Implementation Plan, which covers a variety of mechanisms to improve air quality on the reservation, including ordinances, enforcement, air monitoring, and emissions reporting. The administration and enforcement of the air quality measures will be done by environmental professionals—many of who are Native Americans--trained by the Gila River Indian Community. According to the EPA, the plan is one of the most comprehensive in the country, and will hopefully serve as a model for other tribes. The plan was recently recognized by Harvard University’s Honoring Contributions in the Governance of American Indian Nations awards program at the National Congress of America Indians.