Seventeen states have formed an alternative to the federally run National Association of Clean Air Agencies (NACAA). The states formed the new association, the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies (AAPCA), in response to what they characterize as overly restrictive agendas and heavy-handed treatment by federal officials in the NACAA.
In the fall of 2012 several states announced they would leave the NACAA and form an alternative organization. The newly formed AAPCA announced its creation in late January 2013, with plans to become operational this spring.
Seeking Realistic Standards
“There are real technical issues with regulations and guidance coming from EPA that need thoughtful consideration across the United States,” Texas Commission on Environmental Quality Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein said in a press statement. “Issues like potentially unachievable air quality standards that keep being lowered and transport issues left in limbo by legal challenges. States participating in this organization will have the opportunity to discuss, educate and be educated about the latest technical and regulatory actions.”
AAPCA’s main objectives include:
• create a technical forum for agencies to exchange ideas and gather information on requirements needed to meet the standards of the Clean Air Act;
• develop a structure where the most efficient practices of air pollution control agencies can be identified, shared, and implemented at other agencies; and
• allow staff at the member agencies to develop their knowledge and understanding of air pollution issues.
Member states include: Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
All states that join the association will be represented on its board of directors.
State Officials Explain Decision
“North Dakota has joined AAPCA as a means of belonging to a forum that will provide the state with technical assistance as well as an exchange of ideas and concepts regarding air pollution issues,” said Terry O’Clair, director of Division of Air Quality at North Dakota Department of Health.
“Florida chose to move to the AAPCA in order to focus on sharing data and information to better understand the complex and technical federal regulations set forth by EPA,” said Patrick Gillespie, spokesman for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
“Florida believes AAPCA will be an organization where air regulation experts from across the country share data without taking policy positions unless there is full concurrence of its members,” Gillespie explained.
States Taking Initiative
“The individual states are increasingly taking the initiative to formulate their own solutions to environmental issues,” explained Jay Lehr, science director for the Heartland Institute, which publishes Environment & Climate News. “The federal government, which used to work as a resource and a partner with the states, is increasingly attempting to impose costly, burdensome restrictions on the states that create few real-world benefits.”
“State environmental officials are more knowledgeable regarding local and regional environmental issues than the federal government. It simply makes sense for state environmental officials to band together to work constructively toward regional solutions to regional issues,” Lehr added.
Alyssa Carducci ([email protected]) writes from Tampa, Florida.