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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Proposes to Affirm October 2017 Texas Regional Haze Plan

EPA is Seeking Public Input on Aspects of the Texas Regional Haze Plan

08/17/2018

Media contacts: R6Press@epa.gov or 214 665-2200

DALLAS - (August 17, 2018) Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing to affirm portions of our October 2017 Texas Regional Haze final action that addresses certain Clean Air Act regional haze requirements and the requirement to prevent interference with the visibility plans of downwind states. These portions include the aspects of EPA’s federal plan we believe can benefit from further public input, such as the Clean Air Act requirements for particulate matter and sulfur dioxide as they relate to Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) for Electric Generating Units. The portions of the October 2017 final action we are not proposing to affirm will not be reopened at this time.

The Clean Air Act establishes as a national goal the prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, man-made impairment of visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas designated as mandatory Class I Federal areas. The Regional Haze rule requires states to make progress toward achieving natural visibility conditions in some of the nation’s most treasured areas. In Texas, this includes the Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains Class I areas.

States must submit plans for achieving these goals by reducing harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. While EPA maintains that States are in the best position to provide flexibility and protect the environment while maintaining a strong economic engine, the EPA must implement federal plans to address Regional Haze in the absence of a state clean-air plan that fully meets Clean Air Act requirements.

We believe certain specific aspects of the October 2017 federal plan can benefit from further public comment. In today’s proposal, EPA also invites comment on additional issues that could inform our decision making on particulate matter and sulfur dioxide BART requirements for Texas.

Following the publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register, there will be a comment period to provide the public with an opportunity to provide input. On September 26, 2018, there will be a hearing to accept oral comments into the record, after which the comment period will remain open for at least thirty days.  We are also holding an information session prior to the hearing to provide additional information and a forum for informal discussion on our proposal.

Time:  Information Session: 1:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.

Public hearing: 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. (including a short break) 

Location: Joe C. Thompson Conference Center

(on the University of Texas Campus)

Room 1.110

2405 Robert Dedman Drive

Austin, Texas 78712

Once we have carefully reviewed comments, we will take final action on the aspects of the plan we are proposing to affirm. The EPA will continue to work with the state of Texas to ensure that it meets all Regional Haze requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Haze forms when sunlight hits tiny particles of air pollution (both naturally occurring and man-made). The particles absorb some light while other light is scattered. The greater the number of pollutant particles, the more light is absorbed and scattered. The haze reduces the clarity and color of what we can see. In addition, pollution that leads to haze can harm people’s health and the environment. Exposure to these small particles in the air has been linked to increased respiratory illness, decreased lung function, and even premature death. 

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