PRESS RELEASE

ALASKA AIR PROGRAM FLUNKS FEDERAL TESTS

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Washington, DC – The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) is not meeting its obligations to enforce essential air pollution protections, according to a filing today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The group is challenging the renewal of contracts containing federal grants supporting ADEC operations.

Working with concerned state employees, PEER catalogued the principal problems plaguing Alaska’s implementation of the Clean Air Act, including:

> Toxic pollution, particularly diesel soot, poses a growing health hazard to rural Alaskans but ADEC has no mitigation strategies. Moreover, ADEC lacks any program for addressing indoor quality, which can be injurious, especially during winter months;

> Alaska has made little progress toward determining ambient air quality conditions and uses standards from the lower 48 states that have little application to arctic conditions; and

> Permit standards are routinely developed in closed-door meetings with only industry representatives present, circumventing public notice requirements.

In addition, the PEER filing cites the absence of whistleblower protection for state environmental specialists and the absence of any public notice or review of proposed grant agreements.

“EPA and ADEC are supposed to be partners in abating pollution not abetting violations,” commented PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The reason for these federal grants is to ensure that the most basic regulatory deficiencies are remedied.”

The regional office of EPA and ADEC execute written agreements outlining how the state conducts environmental regulation. These contracts detail environmental priorities and how ADEC plans to spend more than $4 million in grant money. Consequently, these contracts contain a major portion of the environmental protection budget and regulatory blueprint for the state.

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See the PEER filing on the proposed Alaska grant agreement with EPA.