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EPA Announces Regional Haze Reform Roadmap to Continue Improving Visibility and Reduce Regulatory Burdens

Agency to Replace Four FIPs with SIPs in Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia

09/10/2018
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

WASHINGTON (September 10, 2018) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler issued a Regional Haze Reform Roadmap (Roadmap) to enable efficient, timely, and effective implementation of the Regional Haze program today and in the future. Over the next year, EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation will release a series of implementation tools and guidance documents that will help focus states’ efforts and reduce and streamline the time and resources needed to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements for reducing regional haze in National Parks, wildlife refuges, and wilderness areas.

Current data show that state efforts have achieved considerable improvements in visibility throughout the country,” said EPA Acting Administrator Wheeler. “The heavy-handed approach of the previous administration resulted in the imposition of federal implementation plans and billions of dollars in costs that produced only minimal benefits. The actions described in the Regional Haze Roadmap build on lessons learned to improve the program moving forward and provide support for states in the next planning period.”

Following President Trump’s leadership and directives outlined in the April 2018 Presidential Memorandum on Promoting Domestic Manufacturing and Job Creation, the Roadmap sets a path that puts states in charge, reduces state planning burdens, and leverages emission reductions achieved through other Clean Air Act programs. The forthcoming tools and guidance described in the memo will support states in their State Implementation Plan (SIP) development processes and provide key improvements for the upcoming second planning period. In addition, EPA will initiate a notice-and-comment rulemaking to address certain aspects of the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule.

State Implementation Plans
In addition, the Agency soon will be signing actions to convert regional haze FIPs into SIPs in Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. In 2012, EPA issued a FIP covering many states, including these. In the coming days, EPA is taking action to approve these state’s specific plans. This well-coordinated, cooperative approach, allows Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia to meet federal requirements while ensuring the protection of human health and the environment.

“I am pleased that the EPA is approving West Virginia’s plan,” said West Virginia Governor Jim Justice. “Protecting visibility in areas like Dolly Sods and Otter Creek is important for tourism and economic development. West Virginia appreciates the responsiveness of the new leadership at EPA and in this case it means West Virginia has the freedom to develop its own plan and not have a one size fits all plan forced on us.”

During the Obama Administration, more than 50 Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) were imposed on states, including over a dozen under the Regional Haze program. Under the Trump Administration, EPA has turned approximately one FIP into a SIP every month.

Background
The Clean Air Act establishes a national visibility goal to reduce and prevent visibility impairment in national parks and wilderness areas due to man-made pollution. Under the first planning period of the Regional Haze Program, states achieved substantial visibility improvements in affected areas, with visual range improving by 20-30 miles between 2000 and 2015.

On January 10, 2017, EPA took final action to revise the Regional Haze Rule (82 FR 3078) and subsequently received three petitions for administrative reconsideration of the 2017 Regional Haze Rule from states and utilities. In January 2018, EPA announced it would be revisiting certain aspects of the 2017 rule to address issues raised in the petitions and, perhaps, other issues.

Additional information: https://www.epa.gov/visibility