EPA Releases Draft Guidance to States on Regional Haze

EPA has released its “Draft Guidance on Progress Tracking Metrics, Long-term Strategies, Reasonable Progress Goals and Other Requirements for Regional Haze State Implementation Plans for the Second Implementation Period” (resource page and fact sheet). The guidance will advise states on how to develop regional haze State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for the period 2018-2028.  The Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule requires states to develop and implement such plans to protect visibility in certain national parks and wilderness areas deemed as Federal Class I areas.

Since electric generating units, boilers, oil and gas operations, and other energy facilities may be affected in some states, the Rule and its draft guidance can be pertinent to State Energy Officials’ consideration of state energy planning and economic development activities.  Regional haze requirements also interact with National Ambient Air Quality Standards and other air quality regulatory programs that impinge on energy.

The draft guidance recognizes and encourages energy efficiency and renewable energy (EE/RE) programs as effective emission mitigation approaches that can help states achieve the Rule’s visibility objectives. However, the guidance would be strengthened if EPA provided more detail on EE/RE options and opportunities for state regional haze plans, including reference to existing EPA resources and those of the SEE Action Network. The public comment period runs through August 22, 2016.