MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

October 24, 2013

Four tribes share $847K in grants

Funds will aid air quality monitoring

Four Oklahoma-based tribes will share $847,097 in federal grants that will be used to provide assistance with air quality monitoring efforts.

The Cherokee Nation will receive more than half of the assistance grants provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Tahlequah-based tribe, a lead technical agent for the Inter-Tribal Environmental Council, was awarded a $437,785 grant.

Three other Oklahoma tribes also were awarded grants intended to provide greater protection from toxic air pollution. The Quapaw Tribe was awarded a $270,234 grant while the Delaware Nation will receive $68,794 and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma will get $70,284.

Ryan Callison, the Cherokee Nation’s environmental programs director, said the tribe “is very appreciative of this continuing grant and support” for its air quality monitoring program.

“The Cherokee Nation fills crucial data gaps in Oklahoma, monitoring in areas where the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality does not have monitoring stations or extra resources,” Callison said.

The Cherokee’s ambient air quality monitoring program began in 1996 with a project grant. It has grown since then, through a succession of grants, to become one of the largest tribal ambient air quality monitoring programs in the nation.

In addition to its air quality monitoring efforts, the Cherokee Nation assists other member tribes of the ITEC — an environmental consortium of 42 tribes in Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico — establish and operate ambient air quality monitoring projects and programs within EPA Region 6.

Callison said the Cherokee Nation maintains six ambient air quality monitoring stations, which include fixed facilities at Tahlequah, Stilwell, Roland, Newkirk and Pryor, and a mobile monitoring station. Those stations monitor ozone, mercury, ammonia and other air pollutants.

Data collected at those stations are used by the Department of Environmental Quality and federal agencies to study air quality trends and alert the public to ozone levels in the area. That data may be tracked online at www.airnow.gov.

In a media release, EPA Region 6 officials said the federal regulatory agency’s commitment to its state and tribal partners remains a priority. Those partnerships, EPA officials said, “play a crucial role in the implementation of environmental laws and regulations” and “promotes greater compliance.”

Reach D.E. Smoot at (918) 684-2901 or dsmoot@muskogeephoenix.com.

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