The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community was recognized on September 28 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Emission Inventory and Analysis Group as the First Tribal Production Submission to the Emission Inventory System. The award was presented to Environmental Engineer Chris Horan while he was making a presentation at the International Emission Inventory Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Horan was not told the Community was being given the award.
An Emission inventory is a measurement of air quality and the pollutants discharged into the atmosphere to understand what specific pollutants are affecting air quality in a community or location over a specific time period. The information is submitted nationally to the EPA, which runs a National Emission Inventory (NEI) to guide air-quality standards. The EPA has been working to replace the NEI with a new software system, and the Community’s Environmental Protection and Natural Resources (EPNR) Department, working with the Information Technology (IT) Department, used its own experience collecting and reporting air quality in the Community to help the EPA develop its new data system.
Stan Belone, Senior Environmental Specialist, said that last year EPNR started participating in a program called the National Environmental Information Exchange Network (NEIEN). The department worked with IT to set up a data node for submitting data on the Community’s air-quality data and emission inventories.
“The EPA geared their focus in another direction, mainly to get the data more efficiently and in a more user-friendly format in order to utilize our node to tie in with the air-quality data from the same node,” he said.
Horan said the software is one year old and was integrated into the Community in September of 2009, but he said now numerous other tribes also use it.
“We kind of helped the EPA through the their software troubleshooting and we were also invited to review it too,” he said. “This was just something we added to the project because the EPA was replacing the National Emission Inventory, which has been around a long time.”
Horan said this new software is replacing the old and the EPA encourages the use of it. “This software was streamlined to go directly to the program and the information is sent as well, meaning we had no need for a Web-based client,” he said.
Horan said the biggest impact on the Community’s air quality comes from what is taking place outside of the Community.
“Most of the benefits of monitoring air quality are indirect, but we work hard to communicate the importance so Community members can understand what we are doing to improve the air quality within our Community,” he said.