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Redesignation of Clean Air Areas


The Clean Air Act designated most clean air areas as Class II areas, thereby allowing a moderate amount of air quality deterioration. States and Indian governing bodies can manage their clean air areas by redesignating these areas to either Class I (greater air quality protection) or Class III (less protection). By following the CAA's procedural requirements, a state (or Indian governing body, where appropriate) may redesignate any area within its jurisdiction, with the following two exceptions:

• mandatory Class I areas may not be redesignated; and
• Class II "floor" areas may not be redesignated to Class III.

Prior to proposing a redesignation, the redesignating authority must describe and analyze the health, environmental, economic, social, and energy effects of the redesignation. In addition, if the redesignation is to include federal lands, the redesignating authority must provide notice to and opportunity for a conference with the federal land manager. If the federal land manager responds with written comments, the state must explain any inconsistency between those comments and the state's redesignation decision. The CAA establishes additional procedural obstacles for redesignation of"clean" air areas to Class III. For example, such a redesignation requires the legislated concurrence of local governments representing a majority of the residents in the area proposed for redesignation.

The legislative history of the 1977 CAA amendments reveals much controversy over the initial classification of areas. For example, the primary House bill (H.R. 6161) would have designated as mandatory Class I areas all existing national parks and wilderness areas over 25,000 acres in size, and national monuments, primitive areas, and recreation areas over 100,000 acres. It also would have designated as discretionary Class I areas -- that is, areas subject to redesignation to Class II -- all national parks and wilderness areas between 1,000 and 25,000 acres; international parks over 1,000 acres; and national monuments, primitive areas, recreation areas, and preserves in excess of 10,000 acres. The Senate considered an amendment that would have designated as Class I all national monuments in excess of 10,000 acres that are managed as natural areas. The classification scheme ultimately enacted in the 1977 amendments was necessarily a compromise that included, in addition to the already-described Class I and Class II designations, the following provision:

The federal land manager shall review all national monuments, primitive areas, and national preserves, and shall recommend any appropriate areas for redesignation as Class I where air quality related values are important attributes of the area.

In compliance with this provision, the federal land manager published the so-called Section 164(d) Report in 1980, finding that 44 of the 95 areas under review possess air quality related values as important attributes based on the areas' enabling legislation, planning documents, and management.

Kerr-McGee Chemical Corporation challenged the Section 164(d) report as it applied to Death Valley National Monument , one of the 44 areas found to merit consideration by the states of California and Nevada for redesignation to Class I. The appellate court rejected the challenge, holding that Kerr-McGee had failed to demonstrate any "legally cognizable injury" as a result of the federal land manager's recommendation. Thus, without a "case or controversy" before it, the court ordered dismissal of the lawsuit. In its opinion, the court said that the federal land manager's recommendation serves neither as a "prerequisite" nor a "trigger" to state redesignation; rather, the federal land manager's recommendation is "purely advisory," and the state may "act independently of and inconsistently with the recommendation" under the scheme of the CAA. (3) }}

updated on 02/24/2005  I   http://nature.nps.gov/air/regs/redesig.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster