National Wildlife Refuge System

Regional Haze Rule

*** Quick link to the SIP Review Comments Page ***

Overview

The Clean Air Act mandates requirements to protect visibility, especially in Class I areas. The Federal Land Management agencies, in cooperation with other federal and state/local agencies, have monitored visibility in Class I areas since 1988. The Monitoring & Data section of this webpage discusses more information about these monitoring activities and results.

In 1999, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Regional Haze Rule. The rule calls for state, tribal and federal agencies to work together to improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas, including the 21 Class I Wilderness areas managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The States need to develop and implement air quality protection plans to reduce the pollution that causes visibility impairment. These plans may require electric generating units and other industrial operations to install pollution control devices. Additionally, the plans may examine trends in area source emissions, such as motor vehicles. The first State plans for regional haze are due by late 2008. Ultimately by 2064, the visibility in the Class I areas will be returned to natural conditions.

Five multi-state regional planning organizations currently are working together to develop the technical basis for these State plans. Links to the regional planning organizations’ websites are provided below. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service actively participates with each of these regional planning organizations. The products of the regional planning organizations will be used by States to establish monitoring strategies for evaluating visibility conditions, baselines, and trends, and to develop long-term (10 to 15 years) strategies for making "reasonable progress" toward eliminating all manmade visibility impairment from mandatory Class I areas.

On August 1, 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service sent letters to the State Air Directors discussing coordination efforts and Service priorities that we anticipate during the final months leading up to the late 2008 plan submittals. A copy of that letter is attached below.

Regional Haze Rule Consultation with Federal Land Management Agencies (PDF 40KB)

SIP Review Comments: As state implementation plans (SIPs) are reviewed by the Federal Land Management Agencies, any comments and concerns will be posted on the SIP Review Comments Page.

More information can be found at the following websites:

• EPA’s Visibility Home Page: EPA Visibility

Regional Planning Organizations:

Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP) (Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, and Tribal Nations located within these states)

Central Regional Air Planning Association (CENRAP) ( Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana, and Tribal Nations located within these states)

Midwest Regional Planning Organization (Midwest RPO) ( Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin, and Tribal Nations located within these states)

Mid-Atlantic/Northeast Visibility Union (MANE - VU) (Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Northern Virginia, and suburbs of Washington, D.C., and Tribal Nations located within these states)

Visibility Improvement State and Tribal Association of the Southeast (VISTAS) (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, and Tribal Nations located within these states)

Last updated: March 21, 2013