By Barrett Newkirk, November 18, 2013
CABAZON — The government agency responsible for
controlling regional air pollution has asked a federal court to review a
recent decision by the Environmental Protection Agency that it fears
will worsen air quality in the Coachella Valley.
EPA ruled in September that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Reservation northwest of Palm Springs along Interstate 10 was allowed to
welcome heavier-polluting developments before offset requirements take
prompted concerns that the strong winds moving through the San Gorgonio
Pass could carry more harmful pollution to valley communities as more
land on the reservation is developed.
filing last week in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals by the South
Coast Air Quality Management District followed a vote by the district’s
government board Nov. 1 to take legal action against the EPA.
AQMD attorney said following the board’s vote that the decision to file
a lawsuit came from a concern that Indian reservations could become
independent air districts and create “pollution hot spots” as higher-
polluting sources move on to the land.
An EPA spokeswoman has said the agency does not comment on ongoing legal matters.
EPA has said the change for the reservation was meant to reverse a
mistake made a decade ago that put tougher standards on the reservation.
A Morongo spokesman has said the tribe has no specific projects in mind
for the reservation and that tribe sought a reversal of the EPA’s
earlier decision because it went against its status as a sovereign
The AQMD has until Jan. 31 to file briefs to the court. The EPA then has one month to respond.