The air monitoring program began whole-heartedly in 2002 with technical assistance from the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) and funding from both Clean Air Act (CAA) Section 103 grant monies and tribal dollars. Monitoring for air pollutants began with a particulate sampler and precipitation gauge and currently consists of analyzers for ozone, sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen, particulate samplers (PM2.5), a vaporous mercury analyzer, toxic metals sampler, acid and mercury deposition collectors and a meteorological (MET) tower. Program staff include an Air Resources Program Director and an Air Monitoring Specialist.
Data collected at the air monitoring station has been used to determine if the quality of the air in and around the FCPC Reservation is meeting the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for air pollution. While, the quality of the airshed over Reservation lands in Forest County has been considered pristine, pollutants from industry in more populated areas located upwind travel and have been picked up in the data collected at the air site. As the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reviews and tightens the standards for pollutants, the air over the Reservation could possibly fall into the “non-attainment” category for one or more pollutants. Because there are few major sources of pollutants on the Reservation, non-attainment would be the cause of sources located upwind of the Reservation.
Seeking Class I redesignation of the Reservation’s airshed was one of several approaches taken by the FCPC to protect its Reservation from the potential impacts of the Crandon Mine – a huge copper/zinc mine proposed by EXXON east of the Reservation in the 1970’s and 90’s when ore prices were right. While the mine property was eventually purchased by the FCPC and the Sokaogon Chippewa Tribe in 2003 in a remarkable turn of events, the FCPC continued their pursuit of Class I redesignation – committed to protecting their resources and heritage from future threats. And finally, after 14 years and enduring persistence, the FCPC achieved Class I redesignation on April 29, 2008.
In addition to monitoring, FCPC’s legal experience in obtaining Class I has provided incentive for the Tribe to be actively involved in providing comments and input on a number of air-related rules and legislation proposed by both federal and state governments, including mercury emission rules. Class I redesignation has also created a seat at the negotiations table for FCPC when a new air pollution source locating as much as 186 miles (300 km) of the Reservation applies for an air pollution permit from the state of Wisconsin or Michigan. Air pollution permit review enables FCPC to ensure that natural and cultural resources within the Reservation are protected and that permits include appropriate limitations allowed by law.
Following the Class I effort, the FCPC air program submitted an application in accordance with the Clean Air Act Section 301 (d) to the USEPA for Treatment In The Same Manner As A State (TAS) status. In doing so, the Tribe requested from USEPA the authority to take on selected sections of the Clean Air Act, specifically Sections 105 -program funding, 505 (a)(2) – affected state status, and 126 authority. Approved September 29, 2010, the delegations enable the Tribe to actively participate in Air Pollution permitting for EXISTING sources (Title V permits) and air quality management.
The FCPC intends to continue to develop its monitoring program, actively participate in providing comment and input on air related issues and air permits.