Fri Dec 7th, 2018
The Southern Ute Drum
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the State of Colorado held their Environmental Commission meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 5 at the Air Quality Program’s conference room. The first order of business was to introduce new commission members Barbara Scott-Rarick and Rolfe Spiegel. Alternating a state representative and a tribal representative, each year, the Environmental Commission voted in new commission Chairman, Demi Sells.
With the main goal of a minor source program to protect public health and the environment, the Southern Ute Tribe’s Environmental Commission met again to revisit and give updates on the current works of the minor source program options.
Currently the minor sources are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that are classified as “attainment areas” under the “Tribal Minor New Source Review” (TMNSR) program.
Three options were introduced to the commission earlier in 2018. Of the three options the Tribe is in favor of option two. Option two allows the Tribe to apply for an administrative delegation for all, or part of the EPA’s TMNSR permit program and Federal Implementation Plan (FIP).
With the consideration of the Air Quality Program (AQP) and the federal minor source, programs are meeting current air quality needs of the reservation and increased compliance presence by AQP and could have more benefits to air quality such as to issue TMNSR permits, review FIP registrations for completeness and conduct inspections.
Going with minor source option two would require one to two more Air Quality Program employees, with an estimated cost of $210,500, supplemented by EPA grant funding.
The recommendation of option two comes from the Tribe. They also acknowledge and understand that the federal program is effective on the Southern Ute Reservation and with a greater role in regulating minor sources on the reservation, without incurring costs and time required to
develop a reservation-specific program. Option two will still build AQP’s technical permitting skills and would benefit through increased compliance inspection by the Tribe and will insure little or no cost to the Tribe.
“Is it possible we could approve number two, but have option three as the ultimate goal?” Scott-Rarick asked.
Even though option three would allow the Tribe to issue permits, conduct compliance inspections and enforce against non-compliance, it would still have major financial repercussions to the Tribe in the amount of $328,500 annually.
With the decision tabled until the next meeting, the AQP will meet with La Plata and Archuleta County Commissioners to get their input. Cost, effect on air quality, and time are key factors that will play into which option the Environmental Commission decides to go with.