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Environmental groups to sue EPA over state enforcement of air pollution rules

Grand Canyon haze
Ron Clausen/Wikimedia Commons
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Haze caused by air pollution frequently impacts Grand Canyon National Park. Environmental groups say the EPA hasn't done enough to require states to curb pollutants that impact views and environment on public lands as well as public health.

Several conservation and tribal groups plan to sue the Environmental Protection Agency. They say the EPA hasn’t lived up to its obligation to require states to reduce air pollution.

The Sierra Club and nearly 40 other groups say the EPA hasn’t enforced the latest round of regional haze rules under the Clean Air Act. It requires states to submit a draft plan to reduce air pollution. But the organizations say 39 states, including Arizona, didn’t do so by last summer’s deadline.

They also say the EPA didn’t issue a formal finding that the states missed the cutoff date by its own deadline at the end of January.

According to the groups, the coal-fired Coronado and Springerville generating stations in eastern Arizona are some of the state’s biggest polluters, emitting sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that affect public health and the environment and create haze on public lands and elsewhere.

Pollution frequently impacts visibility at Grand Canyon National Park, which is under the highest level of Clean Air Act protection. According to the park, coal-fired power plants, wildfires, transportation and industrial pollutants from Mexico and California are to blame. In addition, tribal conservationists say the haze can drift onto the Navajo Nation and other Indigenous lands.

The EPA declined to comment on the lawsuit for now.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom 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.