S 989

112th CONGRESS
1st Session

S. 989

To amend the Clean Air Act to require the exclusion of data of an exceedance or violation of a national ambient air quality standard caused by a prescribed fire in the Flint Hills Region, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

May 12, 2011

Mr. MORAN (for himself and Mr. INHOFE) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


A BILL

To amend the Clean Air Act to require the exclusion of data of an exceedance or violation of a national ambient air quality standard caused by a prescribed fire in the Flint Hills Region, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the `Flint Hills Preservation Act'.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds that--

      (1) the Flint Hills Region of Kansas and Oklahoma contains the world's largest share of the remaining tallgrass prairie, and is the only place in which that habitat occurs in landscape proportions;

      (2) only 4 percent of the presettlement tallgrass prairie in North America survives to this day, and 80 percent of that prairie is located in Kansas;

      (3) the Flint Hills Region is also home to certain declining avian species, such as the greater prairie chicken and Henslow's sparrow, that cannot continue to exist without large expanses of native tallgrass prairie in an original state;

      (4) the Flint Hills Region is a significant corridor for migrating shorebirds, such as the American golden plover, the buff-breasted sandpiper, and the upland sandpiper;

      (5) beginning in the mid-19th century, cattlemen understood that the richness of the Flint Hills grasses depended on a good spring burn--something they learned from the Native Americans;

      (6) fire still thrives in the Flint Hills because the ranchers, and others using the land, understand that the natural ecosystem depends on fire;

      (7) ranchers, landowners, and conservation groups use prescribed burns to mimic the seasonal fires that have shaped the tallgrass prairie for thousands of years;

      (8) areas not burned for several years develop mature grasses and thicker, thatch-like vegetation, a habitat that is preferred by invasive species;

      (9) the Flint Hills Region is a place in the United States that is an example of the prevailing agricultural system working essentially in tandem with an ancestral native ecosystem, preserving most of the complexity and the dynamic processes that helped shape the area; and

      (10) due to the uniqueness of the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie and the historic manner in which the tallgrass prairie has been managed by fire--

        (A) prescribed burn practices used as of the date of enactment of this Act to manage the Flint Hills tallgrass prairie should be allowed to continue; and

        (B) ambient air data resulting from fires used for that management should be not be included in determinations of compliance with the Clean Air Act (42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq.).

SEC. 3. PRESCRIBED FIRES.

    The Clean Air Act is amended by inserting after section 329 (42 U.S.C. 7628) the following:

`SEC. 330. PRESCRIBED FIRES IN THE FLINT HILLS REGION.

    `(a) Definitions- In this section:

      `(1) FLINT HILLS REGION-

        `(A) IN GENERAL- The term `Flint Hills Region' means the band of hills located in eastern Kansas and north-central Oklahoma.

        `(B) INCLUSIONS- The term `Flint Hills Region' includes--

          `(i) Butler, Chase, Chautauqua, Clay, Cowley, Dickinson, Elk, Geary, Greenwood, Harvey, Jackson, Lyon, Marion, Marshall, Morris, Ottawa, Pottawatomie, Riley, Saline, Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Washington, and Woodson Counties in the State of Kansas; and

          `(ii) Osage, Tulsa, and Washington counties in the State of Oklahoma.

      `(2) PRESCRIBED FIRE- The term `prescribed fire' means a fire that is set or managed by a person with the goal of enhancing a fire-dependent ecosystem or enhancing the productivity of agricultural grazing land, irrespective of the frequency with which the burn occurs.

    `(b) Exclusion of Data- In determining whether, with respect to a specific air pollutant, an exceedance or violation of a national ambient air quality standard has occurred, or for any other purpose under this Act, a State and the Administrator shall exclude data from a particular air quality monitoring location if emissions from 1 or more prescribed fires in the Flint Hills Region cause a concentration of the air pollutant at the location to be in excess of the standard.

    `(c) Specific Limitations- If emission data is excluded under subsection (b) from a particular air quality monitoring station because of emissions from 1 or more prescribed fires in the Flint Hills Region--

      `(1) the Administrator shall not, as a result of the emissions, find under section 113 that a State has failed to enforce, or that a person has violated, a State implementation plan (for national primary or secondary ambient air quality standards) under section 110; and

      `(2) a State shall not, as a result of the emissions, find that a person has violated, or bring an enforcement action for violation of, a State implementation plan (for national primary or secondary ambient air quality standards) under section 110.

    `(d) Prohibition Against Smoke Management Plans- The Administrator shall not require, and a State shall not adopt, a smoke management plan under this Act in connection with any prescribed fire in the Flint Hills Region.

    `(e) Not a Stationary Source- No building, structure, facility, or installation may be treated as a stationary source under this Act as a result of 1 or more prescribed fires in the Flint Hills Region.

    `(f) No Title V Permit Required- No person shall be required to obtain or modify a permit under title V in connection with a prescribed fire in the Flint Hills Region.'.

END