States' failure to submit required regional haze pollution reduction plans sets a two-year deadline to comply.
Washington, DC – Following a lawsuit from a coalition of environmental organizations in April, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued notices last week to fifteen states that failed to submit plans to reduce regional haze pollution required by the Clean Air Act. Regional Haze plans should require pollution reductions from large industrial sources like coal plants, oil refineries, and gas facilities that contribute to haze at 90 percent of our national parks and wilderness areas.
The “finding of failure to submit” starts a two-year deadline for the EPA to issue its own federal plan for each state or approve a tardy state plan. Whether timely or tardy, the EPA must review state implementation plans that are submitted to ensure state plans result in meaningful haze pollution reductions. The EPA can create a federal implementation plan for states that submit inadequate plans or fail to submit plans altogether. Additionally, the EPA can approve state plans the agency determines are sufficient and meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act. The EPA amended the Regional Haze Rule in 2017, giving states until July 31, 2021 to complete their plans. States have had ample time to prepare for compliance.
The fifteen states in noncompliance include: Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia. The Center for Biological Diversity, Environmental Defense Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, and Sierra Club filed the lawsuit and are represented by Sierra Club.
Statement from Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel for National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air and Climate Programs:
“While today’s action is overdue, EPA’s decision to hold states accountable to the law is a necessary step in ensuring our national parks, rangers, visitors and surrounding communities will have clear skies and clean air to breathe. Nearly every national park is affected by air pollution, harming our parks’ waters, wildlife and landscapes, and threatening the health of millions of park visitors and vulnerable communities across the county. For years, NPCA has demanded EPA take action, and today’s decision shows that we’ve been heard. But this is only the first of many steps. Now, EPA must act to ensure that state regional haze plans result in significant pollution reductions that will protect our national parks and communities.”
Statement from Holly Bender, Senior Director for Energy Campaigns at Sierra Club:
“The air pollution that causes haze in our national parks originates from sources that are often in the middle of communities that have suffered from decades of environmental injustices. EPA Administrator Regan saw these facilities and heard from these communities during his Journey to Justice. Enforcing environmental laws, and stepping in where states have failed to step up, is an important way for Administrator Regan to keep his commitment to these communities.”
About The National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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