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Working to keep the air you breathe clean

Jul. 8, 2022

NW Clean Air continues decades-long tradition of air quality work

MOUNT VERNON – The Northwest Clean Air Agency – first known as the Northwest Air Pollution Authority – was founded in 1967 by Island, Skagit, Whatcom, and San Juan counties. (San Juan County later withdrew.) The agency enforces federal, state and local air quality regulations in the current three member counties.

The agency’s formation followed the passage in 1967 of the Washington Clean Air Act, which states: “It is declared to be the public policy to preserve, protect, and enhance the air quality for current and future generations. Air is an essential resource that must be protected from harmful levels of pollution. Improving air quality is a matter of statewide concern and is in the public interest.”

The state’s Clean Air Act gave counties the ability to create their own air pollution control authorities or form multi-county authorities. Currently, seven local clean air agencies are active in the state.

Northwest Clean Air works with more than 500 registered sources of industrial air emissions, plus individuals, on a variety of air quality issues.

A seven-member Board of Directors oversees the Northwest Clean Air Agency. The board includes representatives of Island, Skagit, and Whatcom counties; those counties’ three largest cities (Bellingham, Mount Vernon, and Oak Harbor); and an at-large member.

The agency also has an Advisory Council made up of local experts in public health, air pollution control, chemistry, meteorology, and other related disciplines, as well as representatives of industry and the environmental community.

The Northwest Clean Air staff is led by Executive Director Mark Buford, who took over the position Jan. 1, 2017. He was preceded by Mark Asmundson (2006-2016), Jamie Randles (2000-2006), Terry Nyman (1984-2000), and Glen Hallman (1971-1984).

See for more information on air quality issues, regulations, and Northwest Clean Air activities.