Reporting, Sustainability

Environmental Groups Demand Regional Haze SIPs

Thirty-nine U.S. states have failed to provide their revised regional haze state implementation plans (SIPs) as required by Section 304(b)(2) of the Clean Air Act (CAA), according to a Notice of Intent (NOI) to file suit dated February 7, 2022, sent to the EPA by a coalition of environmental organizations, reports a Sierra Club press release.

“EPA and other Agencies have been monitoring visibility in national parks and wilderness areas since 1988. In 1999, the [EPA] announced a major effort to improve air quality in national parks and wilderness areas,” the EPA Regional Haze Program website says. “The Regional Haze Rule calls for state and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, the Great Smokies and Shenandoah.”

“Specifically, the Administrator has violated, and is in violation of, his nondiscretionary duties … by failing to timely issue the statutorily mandated determinations of whether 39 states … have submitted revised regional haze … SIPs (state implementation plans) that meet the (regulated) minimum completeness criteria … ,” the NOI notes. “Those SIPs were due July 31, 2021, … and the Administrator’s determination of whether the states submitted SIPs meeting the completeness criteria was due 6 months later, that is, by January 31, 2022. … The Administrator is now in violation of his nondiscretionary duty to make that determination. Because these states have in fact failed to submit the required SIPs by the July 31, 2021, deadline, the Administrator further is in violation of a nondiscretionary duty to determine that these states have not submitted SIPs that meet the minimum completeness criteria.”

The states that failed to submit their regional haze SIPs by July 31, 2021, according to the NOI, are:

Alabama
Arkansas
Delaware
Idaho
Kentucky
Maryland
Missouri
Nevada
North Carolina
Oregon
South Carolina
Utah
Washington

Alaska
California
Georgia
Illinois
Louisiana
Minnesota
Montana
New Hampshire
North Dakota
Pennsylvania
South Dakota
Vermont
West Virginia

Arizona
Colorado
Hawaii
Iowa
Maine
Mississippi
Nebraska
New Mexico
Oklahoma
Rhode Island
Tennessee
Virginia
Wyoming

Thirty-nine environmental groups joined the NOI and are represented by Earthjustice.

“The EPA must take action to restore clean and clear air at national parks from Great Smoky Mountains to Joshua Tree,” states Stephanie Kodish, senior director and counsel for the National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air and Climate Programs, in the Sierra Club press release. “Most states have not complied with the basic requirement to get their plan for reducing haze pollution to EPA and it is incumbent on EPA to act. Our national parks, rangers, visitors, wildlife and surrounding communities are suffering under the weight of dirty emissions from hundreds of sources that must be held accountable. Enforcing the Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Program will not only benefit national parks but result in healthier, cleaner air for all.”

The EPA has 60 days from the date the NOI was postmarked to respond before a lawsuit is filed.