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News Releases from Region 06

EPA Withdraws Federal Plan, Approves Changes to Arkansas’ Clean-Air Plan for Regional Haze

09/10/2019
Contact Information: 
Joe Hubbard or Jennah Durant (R6Press@epa.gov)
214 665-2200

DALLAS – (Sept. 10, 2019) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently approved revisions to the state of Arkansas’ clean-air plan for regional haze and withdrew a portion of the federal regional haze plan. The state plan addresses emissions that impact visibility at national parks and wilderness areas in Arkansas and downwind states. The revisions address Clean Air Act requirements for particulate matter and sulfur dioxide as they relate to best available retrofit technology for electric generating units.

“States are best suited to run their clean-air programs, and Arkansas’ clean-air plan gives our state partner the flexibility needed to improve its air quality,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ken McQueen. “This plan ensures that the skies over Arkansas’ scenic areas will be protected for future generations.”

“We appreciate and applaud this action by EPA. It is a remarkable day for Arkansans and all who have worked to restore state control,” said Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment Secretary Becky W. Keogh. “Arkansas is well positioned with this approved plan to achieve and surpass the air-quality goals set in federal law, while realizing over $2 billion of savings to ratepayers.”

EPA worked closely with Arkansas for the last two years to update the state’s plan and replace the federal implementation plan. States must submit plans to EPA for achieving progress to reduce harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. Arkansas’ plan includes the reduction of sulfur dioxide, oxides of nitrogen and particulate matter using best-available retrofit technology at seven electric-generating units. In addition, the revisions address all remaining regional haze requirements for sources in Arkansas except for two units at the Domtar Ashdown Mill, which are included in a separate clean-air plan revision that EPA is currently reviewing.

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 before it becomes visible. The greater number of pollutant particles, the more light is absorbed and scattered. The haze reduces 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.

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 Arkansas, this includes the Caney Creek and Upper Buffalo Class I areas.

For more about EPA’s work in Arkansas: https://www.epa.gov/ar

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