McAfee & Taft RegLINC - May 2011: Oklahoma’s proposed regional haze SIP revision rejected by EPA By Mary Ellen Ternes


On March 22, 2011, EPA published its proposal to approve and disapprove portions of Oklahoma’s February 19, 2010, proposal to comply with EPA’s regulations implementing the U.S. Clean Air Act’s “Visibility Protection” provisions, known as the “Regional Haze Rule.” EPA is disapproving Oklahoma’s proposed “Best Available Retrofit Technology,” “Long-Term Strategy” and “BART Alternative,” substituting its own federal implementation plan imposing SO2 emission limits on six Oklahoma SO2 emission sources. Central to the dispute is primarily the timing and manner of compliance.

The Regional Haze Rule originates from Congress’ 1977 Clean Air Act addition of Section 169, which declared as a new national goal, “the prevention of any future, and the remedying of any existing, impairment of visibility in mandatory Class I Federal areas which impairment results from man-made air pollution.” EPA initially adopted visibility protection regulations in 1980 addressing discrete emission sources or small groups of emission sources. Then, in 1990, Congress added CAA Section 169B inspired by the decreasing visibility in the Grand Canyon. In 1996, the Grand Canyon Commission provided EPA with strategies to address regional haze created by lots of emission sources, prompting EPA to adopt its “Regional Haze Rule” in 1999. This rule requires review, modeling and control of sources emitting pollution which may cause or contribute to haze within a state’s national parks, and also in states downwind from a state. While the regional haze rule may end up improving air quality, the purpose of the regional haze rule is aesthetic.

Article Authored By McAfee & Taft Attorney: Mary Ellen Ternes.

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