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Arizona Prepares Appeal as EPA Again Rejects the State’s Regional Haze Rules


The Environmental Protection Agency recently rejected part of Arizona’s plan to improve visibility at several Southwestern wilderness areas and national parks including the Grand Canyon. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the state is preparing an appeal after its third such rejection.

The EPA’s rejection was based on the state’s lack of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. That law is aimed at protecting visibility at more than 150 national parks and wilderness areas statewide by reducing emissions like nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide.

Arizona’s plan involved stretching out those changes over 50 years, but the EPA wants it to move faster.

Eric Massey is the director of the Air Quality Division for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. He says the federal haze plan is too aggressive.

“It’s my understanding that EPA’s proposed plan costs significantly more money — in the hundreds of millions of dollars to Arizona’s economy through controls that don’t actually achieve a visibility improvement that any human being could see … We felt like our solution was more economically balanced and still achieved basically the same environmental impact,” Massey says.

According to the EPA, the new Arizona rules will remove 32,000 tons of pollutants per year. The federal agency is ordering six facilities statewide to reduce emissions, including a lime manufacturer near Kingman.

The EPA’s Regional Haze Program was established to improve visibility at Grand Canyon National Park, the Sycamore Canyon Wilderness 15 other areas in the Southwest.

Read the EPA's recent air-quality actions regarding regional haze in Arizona at

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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