Office of Air Quality
The Office of Air Quality consists of four branches: Permits, Compliance, Policy and Planning, and Asbestos and Enforcement. Each branch of the Office of Air Quality has specific duties and addresses various aspects of the air program. The branches work together to meet Arkansas’s federal obligations under the Clean Air Act; and protect air quality to enhance the lives and health of all Arkansans and visitors to the State, while fostering responsible economic expansion opportunities.
- Developing and implementing programs designed to ensure compliance with federal air quality regulations
- Developing state rules governing air quality
- Regulating emissions through a permitting program that sets emission limits protective of public health
- Monitoring ambient air quality in Arkansas through deployment and maintenance of a statewide monitoring network
- Investigating complaints and violations of State and federal air quality laws
- Preparing and issuing air quality forecasts
ADEQ’s Office of Air Quality Provides Comments on Two Recent EPA Draft Documents
Recently, the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality provided the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with comments on two topics: EPA’s draft guidance on the preparation of Exceptional Events Rule demonstrations for forestry-related prescribed fire events and EPA’s reevaluation of the Policy on Exclusions from Ambient Air for modeling purposes.
Prescribed fire is an important tool used by land managers to meet ecosystem management goals. However, unforeseen changes in weather patterns could impact air quality data even if best practices are used. The EPA recently publicized a draft guidance document to assist state, tribal, and local air quality agencies in the development of Exceptional Events Rule demonstrations to exclude monitor data that was unduly influenced by a forestry-related prescribed fire event. In our comments, ADEQ supports the EPA’s tiered system of required analyses and case-by-case considerations, which also maintain regional consistency.
With regard to the EPA’s reevaluation on the Policy on Exclusions from Ambient Air, ADEQ supports the EPA’s effort to provide flexible options to accommodate changing technologies and measures that effectively preclude the general public’s access to private land. In our comments, ADEQ supported the proposal to allow states to consider demonstrations of restricted public access on a case-by-case basis rather than requiring physical barriers to be determinative.
Department of Agriculture's Smoke Management Task Force finalizes new Arkansas Voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines for Row Crop Burning to accompany the existing Voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines for Forest Industry and Landowners prescribed burns
Land managers utilize fire in a variety of contexts including forestry, conservation, and in the agricultural sector. While Arkansas is attaining and maintaining all national air quality standards, smoke from fires still contains air contaminants that affect air quality. Facilitating healthy air quality requires an on-going cooperative effort by both land managers and air quality experts. To this end, voluntary Smoke Management Guidelines for forest landowners and prescribed fire technicians, and for row crop farmers, have been developed to provide guidance for safe, efficient prescribed burning that causes as little inconvenience to the public as possible.
EPA Highlights Continued Improvements in Air Quality Trends as Arkansas Experiences Similar Trends
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released its annual report on air quality, showing the significant progress the United States has made to improve air quality. “Our Nation’s Air: Status and Trends Through 2016” documents steady and significant progress made in improving air quality across America over more than 45 years under the Clean Air Act. Similarly, the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, in which ADEQ’s Office of Air Quality is a member and Associate Director Stuart Spencer is Vice President, also recently highlighted the nationwide improvements in its report, entitled “[t]he Greatest Story Seldom Told.” These national trends are consistent with trends that Arkansas is experiencing as documented in ADEQ’s annual “State of the Air Report.”
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