Christine Todd Whitman in Carson City

The Las Vegas Valley won't be hit with sanctions for air quality violations any time soon, according to the head of the federal Environmental Protection Agency.

Christine Todd Whitman met with Gov. Kenny Guinn and Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury Tuesday morning to discuss the situation.

"We're a long way from discussing penalties," she said after the meeting. "They are undertaking the kinds of initiatives we are looking for."

The Las Vegas Valley, now home to more than a million people and scene of the most dramatic development and construction in the nation, has an increasing problem with air pollution - especially airborne dust often caused by construction.

"My interest is clean air, not penalties," Whitman said. "The commitment is real here. We see progress being made."

Woodbury and Guinn, who arranged the meeting, said they were pleased with the discussion.

"We wanted to make sure EPA is aware of our commitment, that it's not just a response to sanctions," said Woodbury.

But Whitman offered little in the way of encouragement Tuesday to Nevadans concerned about Yucca Mountain.

She said her agency's primary involvement so far has been to set a separate groundwater standard for evaluating the proposed nuclear dump site.

"Now the process is kind of automatic," she said, referring to the congressionally defined schedule for review of the proposed dump 75 miles north of Las Vegas.

Guinn said state experts were reviewing the standards.

Whitman was in Nevada for the Tahoe Basin Restoration Summit.

She was scheduled to tour Lake Tahoe with Guinn, Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., and Rep. Jim Gibbons, R-Nev., as well as other officials.


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