Environmental Protection

State Agencies' Responsibilities Expanding

Seventeen states have joined the new Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, which will create a technical forum to help states apply the Clean Air Act and associated regulations.

New programs at some state agencies and a new organization focused on air pollution control strategies at the state level are gearing up at the start of 2013, opening new employment and training opportunities for their technical staffs. A high-profile move by 17 states, including Texas, is their creation of the Association of Air Pollution Control Agencies, which will create a technical forum to help states apply the Clean Air Act and associated regulations.

"There are real technical issues with regulations and guidance coming from EPA that need thoughtful consideration across the United States," said Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Commissioner Carlos Rubinstein. "Issues like potentially unachievable air quality standards that keep being lowered and transport issues left in limbo by legal challenges. States participating in this organization will have the opportunity to discuss, educate and be educated about the latest technical and regulatory actions."

AAPCA will become operational this Spring. The 17 states whose air quality agencies have joined thus far are Alabama, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Mexico, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming. All of them will be represented on its board of directors.

AAPCA's main objectives include:

  • Creating a technical forum for agencies to exchange ideas and obtain information on requirements needed to meet the Clean Air Act
  • Developing a structure where best practices of air pollution control agencies can be identified, shared, and implemented at other agencies
  • Allowing staffers at the member agencies to expand their knowledge and understanding of air pollution issues

At the same time, three environmental engineer II openings in Fairbanks, Juneau, and Anchorage have been posted by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Water, Oil and Gas Section. The positions require at minimum a bachelor's degree and four years of engineering experience or a master's and two years' engineering experience, and their salaries range from $76,680 to $80,520 annually. The agency's postings of the positions explain the section is hiring because the state of Alaska on Nov. 1, 2012, gained full authority to administer the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) from federal EPA, completing a five-year transfer process. "This is an exciting time to be in the Division of Water at DEC, with the opportunity for job growth and skill building, as well as being involved with development and implementing the APDES program in Alaska," the postings state.

These state departments are large agencies with responsibilities for all facets of environmental compliance. TCEQ has about 2,760 employees and a $342 million operating budget for FY2013. Its online hiring page listed openings for an engineer I, environmental investigator II, environmental permit specialist I, aquatic scientist I, natural resources specialist V, and auditor IV as of early February.

About the Author

Jerry Laws is Editorial Director of www.eponline.com, a website maintained by 1105 Media Inc.

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