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EPA Strengthens Regional Haze Provisions for Western States and Eligible Indian Tribes; Effort will Improve Visibility in Western U.S.

Release Date: 05/22/2003
Contact Information:

David Deegan 202-564-7839/

(05/22/03) EPA today approved a proposal to amend its regional haze rule, incorporating provisions designed to improve visibility in the 16 federally-protected national parks and wilderness areas on the Colorado Plateau, including the Grand Canyon. The new provisions set regional milestones for reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, a key compound in the formation of fine particles and regional haze, that participating states must meet between 2003 and 2018. The new provisions were first proposed to the Agency in September 2000 by the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), which includes representatives of western states, tribes and federal agencies. According to the WRAP plan, states and tribes will collect annual sulfur dioxide emission reports from power plants and other large sources and generate a regional emissions total. If the regional total exceeds the annual milestone, a backstop sulfur dioxide market trading program would be triggered, ensuring that emission reduction milestones and visibility goals are met. Haze forms when sunlight strikes very small pollution particles in the air. The same pollution that causes haze also poses serious health risks, especially for people with chronic respiratory diseases.