Regional Haze

One of the key avenues for pushing to clean up our state’s coal power fleet is via a little-known but critical piece of the Clean Air Act called the “Regional Haze ” rule. Allow us to explain!

The Issue

Beginning in 1990, when then-President George H.W. Bush signed the Clean Air Act amendments, the Enviornmental Protection Agency began to rein in the tiny but dangerous airborne pollution particles from man made sources. Coming from motor vehicles, electric utilities and industrial burning and manufacturing operations, this haze-inducing pollution is both the cause of reduced visibility in our national parks and also the instigator of serious health problems such as respiratory illness, decreased lung function and even premature death.

The EPA’s “Regional Haze” rule is designed to significantly reduce this pollution.

Not only will the EPA’s rule clean up the views around the West, including our beloved national parks, and benefit our health by limiting particulate pollution, but the rules are supported by a majority of Utahns.


Resistance To Change

While cleaning up our air and improving our health is overwhelmingly supported by Utahns, the new rule is being fought tooth and nail by Rocky Mountain Power. The utility owns some of the dirtiest coal power plants in the nation but is actively resisting the EPA’s efforts via the Clean Air Act to clean those up.

Rocky Mountain Power has fought to block the EPA from making them install cutting-edge pollution controls — called “selective catalytic reduction.” SCR controls are proven to work and are already in place at more than 200 coal plants throughout the country.

If SCR becomes widely used throughout the West, it promises to go a long way toward cleaning up our scenic views and, most important, removing the pollutants sickening our families and contributing to the rising cost of health care.

The Regional Haze rule requires states to come up with their own plans to protect these views. The EPA has approved most states’ proposals to significantly limit the landscape-shrouding pollution coming from nearby coal plants. For Utah, unfortunately, this is not the case.

Looking Forward

Utah’s proposed Regional Haze rules were rejected by the EPA for not doing enough to cut the smog that, on some of the worst days, obscures the views in our local national parks by 40 to 80 miles.

As we head into 2015, big decisions are looming as to whether Utah will order Rocky Mountain Power’s plants to clean up. What will the EPA do? Stay tuned!


EPA’s Final Action on Utah’s Regional Haze SIP (PDF)



Recent Posts about Regional Haze…

NEWS: Utah's air could get dirtier under a Trump administration

Published 12/09 2016

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - President-elect Donald Trump's pick to head the EPA is raising some concerns among environmental advocates in Utah. The move elevates Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, a fierce critic of the EPA, to the position of EPA Administrator.

As Attorney General of Oklahoma, the biggest oil and natural gas producing state in the nation, Pruitt launched several legal battles against the Obama administration's key climate change laws, including a piece of the clean air act that Utah knows well - the EPA's regional haze rule.

HEAL Utah Executive Director Matt Pacenza explained, "The EPA has ordered Hunter and Huntington to install some state of the art pollution control technologies. Those are going to do a tremendous amount of good for Utah."


Watch the video here.


HEAL Utah Expresses Dismay About Trump EPA Pick

HEAL Utah Expresses Dismay About Trump EPA Pick

Enviro Group Raises Concern that New Chief Will Doom Clean Air, Climate Efforts

HEAL Utah today raised serious concerns about the news that President-elect Donald Trump will nominate Scott Pruitt to run the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt has a track record of fighting climate change and clean air safeguards during his time as Oklahoma attorney general.

HEAL Utah’s Executive Director Matt Pacenza noted that EPA policies have a powerful effect on Utah, from the agency’s efforts to limit the greenhouse gas emissions that are warming our planet to its work helping to clean up our polluted air.

“If the EPA moves away from protecting the health of our families towards preserving the profits of the fossil fuels industry, Utahns will pay the price,” said Pacenza.


Episode #53: HEAL's Victories! Clean Air, Coal & Coal Ash

Matt flies solo and dives deep on three recent HEAL Utah victories, offering some context and detail to explain the significance of each. First, he talks about Navitus, a proposed waste-to-energy facility that Sandy City officials are now backing away from. Second, he describes the collapse of the Oakland coal terminal proposal. (Those two victories described more here.) Lastly, he explains the importance of a recent federal court ruling that will allow HEAL's lawsuit against Rocky Mountain Power for its coal ash handling practices at its Huntington plant to move forward. Hey, folks, if you like what you're hearing and you listen to the podcast via iTunes, please take a moment and "rate" and "comment" on the podcast here. That'll help more people discover us!


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