July 11, 2023

The Honorable Michael Regan
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of the Administrator
Mail Code 1101A
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460

Re: Assuring Clean Air in our Parks and Communities through Strong Implementation of the Regional Haze Rule

Dear Administrator Regan:

On behalf of our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we, the undersigned executives of 47 organizations, urge you to act promptly and strongly on the Regional Haze Round 2 State Implementation Plans that have been submitted to the Environmental Protection Agency. Time is of the essence and many states have proposed haze plans that lack the scale of pollution reducing measures that our national parks, wilderness areas and communities require to make reasonable progress toward clear skies. This Regional Haze planning period is an essential moment and prime opportunity for you to establish a legacy of clean air across the country.

The Regional Haze Rule (RHR) is a time-tested, effective program that has resulted in real, measurable, and noticeable improvements in national park and wilderness area visibility and air quality over the past decade. Yet parks and communities – from the Everglades to Mount Rainier and Acadia to Joshua Tree – are still plagued with haze pollution that threatens public health, nature and visibility. While the primary goal of the RHR program is the reduction of visibility impairing pollution in Class I areas, through successful implementation in the past, we have achieved important co-benefits that have also cut climate-polluting greenhouse gases.

Many of our organizations have engaged in nearly all of the state public comment periods to date, bringing our advocates to public hearings and submitting testimony, detailed comments and expert reports to state agencies. Many of our organizations have met with you and your staff across the country throughout the Round 2 planning process over the last few years. Through our advocacy, we’ve continued to stress the urgency of action and the consistency with which EPA must address the flaws in state haze plans. We’d like to further draw your attention to the near universal weaknesses we’ve found in state haze plans, outlined below.

Source selection by states excluded significant emissions and sources from consideration in their analyses.

Unfortunately, many states did not comprehensively identify sources for analysis as required; they circumvented this requirement through a variety of ways. Numerous states set their analysis thresholds too high to sufficiently capture sources and emissions and exempted sources that have a planned or stated retirement date that is not federally enforceable. Many relied on previous “Best Available Retrofit Technology” (BART) determinations or other Clean Air regulations that address possible control options. Still others ignored non-dominant pollutants by disregarding nitrogen oxides emissions and focusing just on sulfur dioxide emissions or vice versa and nearly all states ignored area and mobile sources. Lastly, in many instances, states determined that a recent permit to construct exempts a source from analysis.

The ways in which states ignored sources that have the potential to pollute our parks, wilderness areas and communities, are unacceptable. EPA must hold states accountable for thorough and comprehensive analyses and ensure that their worst sources of haze pollution harming Class I areas are included. States must not be allowed to skip emission cuts or enforceable requirements from sources known to negatively affect air quality in our national parks and wilderness areas.

States did not justify their dismissal of emission reduction measures in satisfactory ways.

As stated above, states circumvented requirements and did not justify their dismissal of emission reduction measures. Many states relied on industry analyses of sources instead of conducting their own independent reviews. States also relied on industry arguments that sources were ‘effectively controlled’ when in most cases they should have required control upgrades. Finally, we believe that most states should have established cost-effectiveness thresholds that were higher than the first round of haze planning, which would have allowed for the requirement of controls that are already required at similar sources.

Moreover, while the central goal of the RHR is in fact improvement in visibility, the analyses required under the four statutory factors does not actually include consideration of emissions as they would directly affect visibility benefits. Inappropriately, most states relied on visibility benefits they deemed arbitrarily as ‘too small’ as a means to exclude emission reducing measures from sources that otherwise might satisfy the four statutory factors. Therefore, EPA must also ensure that states are not dismissing any possible emission reduction measures that do in fact satisfy the required comprehensive analyses.

Legal requirements of the RHR were not followed.

Most states completely ignored many of the legal requirements of the Regional Haze Rule. They conducted incomplete or flawed interstate consultation, ignored the comments and recommendations of Federal Land Managers (FLMs), delayed requirements until Round 3 planning, relied on the Uniform Rate of Progress glidepath as a ‘safe harbor’, and ignored requirements for additional controls for nearly all sources. The EPA has already determined, through the July 2021 Clarification Memo1Memorandum from Peter Tsirigotis, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, to Regional Air Division Directors Regions 1-10, “Clarifications Regarding Regional Haze State Implementation Plans for the Second Implementation Period,” (July 9, 2021), https://www.epa.gov/visibility/clarifications-regarding-regional-haze-state-implementation-planssecond-implementation. (“July 2021 Clarification Memo”)., that the above activities are not allowable.

Consultation with neighboring states and FLMs is vital, and required, to ensure the proper expertise and mutually beneficial information is shared. We are particularly concerned that states did not meaningfully consider FLM recommendations—FLMs manage the very places that the Regional Haze Rule is required to protect. FLMs have unique expertise in the resources they protect at each of their sites whether they are Class I areas or not. Many states did not respect the input of their federal partners and we urge the EPA to ensure state haze plans meet the requirement of meaningful consultation. The EPA must correct the states’ misplaced reliance on the glidepath to avoid controls for sources. Finally, we strongly encourage the EPA to ensure that state plans include emission control requirements on sources.

States failed to take into consideration the Administration’s priorities, specifically environmental justice.

The Biden Administration has made it clear that environmental justice is a very high priority for all government agencies. Moreover, you have also identified environmental justice as a very high priority for the EPA. We are disappointed that most states did not take environmental justice considerations into account when writing their haze plans. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has identified that more than 50% of the sources of concern2See letter to Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Joseph Goffman from National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club and Earthjustice: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JARfTEoDYM-Fd8PQThrjW8V1ol6g1TNo/view for regional haze across the country are located in environmental justice communities (as identified by people of color, low income, and unemployment rate percentiles as well as communities with high ozone and particulate matter environmental justice indexes). We strongly urge the EPA to review the environmental justice considerations for each state and ensure the state haze plans reflect these considerations.

Finally, the Biden Administration has also made climate change and the shift to carbon-free, renewable energy a high priority. Many of the state plans do not reflect this priority and it’s EPA’s job to ensure the country’s priorities are carried forward through the programs in which the EPA has authority to regulate. Many state haze plans relied on the transition from coal to natural gas, which is still highly problematic as gas still emits haze pollution and greenhouse gases that drive climate change. Moreover, many states did not consider the impacts of oil and gas area sources or mobile sources—the cumulative effect of all these sources is significant pollution that harms our most vulnerable communities as well as Class I areas. We urge the EPA to ensure state haze plans point our country towards a healthier and more just climate future.

The EPA is required to ensure that states’ Round 2 regional haze plans meet all legal requirements of the Clean Air Act and deliver reasonable progress on the goal of restoring natural visibility conditions to national parks and wilderness areas across the country. We believe that many of the currently proposed state haze plans do not accomplish this goal, and we urge EPA to disapprove the inadequate plans to ensure our parks and communities are afforded clean air and clear views in the future. We urge EPA to act as swiftly as possible to respond to the 37 state plans currently submitted to the agency. This opportunity through the RHR only comes once in a decade, we cannot miss this critical chance to clear our air.


Jennifer Hadayia
Executive Director
Air Alliance Houston
Houston, TX

Nicole Zussman
President and CEO
Appalachian Mountain Club
Boston, MA

Matthew Mehalik
Executive Director
Breathe Project
Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Catherine Garoupa
Executive Director
Central Valley Air Quality Coalition
Stockton, CA

Michael Murray
Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
Washington, DC

Scott Skokos
Executive Director
Dakota Resource Council
Bismarck, ND

Abigail Dillen
San Francisco, CA

Luke Metzger
Executive Director
Environment Texas
Austin, TX

Eve Samples
Executive Director
Friends of the Everglades
Stuart, FL

Michael Hansen
Executive Director
Birmingham, AL

Codi Norred
Executive Director
Georgia Interfaith Power and Light
Decatur, GA

Mark Magaña
Founding President & CEO
Boulder, CO

Patrick Campbell
Executive Director
Group Against Smog & Pollution
Pittsburgh, PA

Lexi Tuddenham
Executive Director
Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah)
Salt Lake City, UT

Maite Arce
President and CEO
Hispanic Access Foundation
Washington, D.C.

Deaconess Irene DeMaris
Executive Director
Iowa Interfaith Power & Light
Des Moines, IA

Lane Boldman
Executive Director
Kentucky Conservation Committee
Frankfort, KY

Ashley Wilmes
Executive Director
Kentucky Resources Council
Frankfort, KY

Patricia Schuba
President, Board of Directors
Labadie Environmental Organization (LEO)
Labadie, MO

Gene Karpinski
League of Conservation Voters
Washington, DC

Eric Engle
Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action
Parkersburg, WV

Kathryn Hoffman
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy
Saint Paul, MN

Dominique Browning
Director and Co-Founder
Moms Clean Air Force
New York, NY

Anne Hedges
Montana Environmental Information Center
Helena, MT

Tanya Coventry-Strader
Interim Executive Director
Mothers & Others For Clean Air
Atlanta, GA

Theresa Pierno
President and CEO
National Parks Conservation Association
Washington, DC

David Garbett
Executive Director
O2 Utah
Salt Lake City, UT

John Bridge
Olympic Park Advocates
Sequim, WA

Jana Gastellum
Executive Director
Oregon Environmental Council
Portland, OR

Patrick McDonnell
President and CEO
Harrisburg, PA

David Romtvedt
Powder River Basin Resource Council
Sheridan, WY

Sean Dixon
Executive Director
Puget Soundkeeper
Seattle, WA

Joel J. Africk
President and CEO
Respiratory Health Association
Chicago, IL

TJ Ellerbeck
Executive Director
Rural Utah Project
Salt Lake City, UT

Mark Pearson
Executive Director
San Juan Citizens Alliance
Durango, CO

Hope F. Cupit
President and CEO
Roanoke, VA

Ben Jealous
Executive Director
Sierra Club
Washington, DC

DJ Gerken
President and Executive Director
Southern Environmental Law Center
Charlottesville, VA

Marquita Bradshaw
Executive Director
Sowing Justice
Memphis, TN

Keith Hammer
Swan View Coalition
Kalispell, MT

Sandra Gross
Executive Director
Tennessee Citizens for Wilderness Planning
Oak Ridge, TN

Courtney Shea
Tennessee Interfaith Power and Light
Knoxville, TN

Jonny Vasic
Executive Director
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
Salt Lake City, UT

Christina Hausman Rhode
Executive Director
Voyageurs Conservancy
Minneapolis, MN

Eric Frankowski
Executive Director
Western Clean Energy Campaign
Longmont, CO

Margaret (Maggie) Johnston
Executive Director
Wild Alabama
Moulton, AL

Renée M. Chacon
Executive Director
Womxn from the Mountain
Commerce City, CO


Janet McCabe, Deputy Administrator, EPA

Tomás Carbonell, Deputy Assistant Administrator for Stationary Sources, EPA Office of Air and Radiation

Peter Tsirigotis, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, EPA Office of Air and Radiation

EPA Region 1 Regional Administrator David Cash

EPA Region 2 Regional Administrator Lisa Garcia

EPA Region 3 Regional Administrator Adam Ortiz

EPA Region 4 Regional Administrator Daniel Blackman

EPA Region 5 Regional Administrator Debra Shore

EPA Region 6 Regional Administrator Earthea Nance

EPA Region 7 Regional Administrator Meg McCollister

EPA Region 8 Regional Administrator KC Becker

EPA Region 9 Regional Administrator Martha Guzman

EPA Region 10 Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller

  • 1
    Memorandum from Peter Tsirigotis, Director, Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards, to Regional Air Division Directors Regions 1-10, “Clarifications Regarding Regional Haze State Implementation Plans for the Second Implementation Period,” (July 9, 2021), https://www.epa.gov/visibility/clarifications-regarding-regional-haze-state-implementation-planssecond-implementation. (“July 2021 Clarification Memo”).
  • 2
    See letter to Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Joseph Goffman from National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club and Earthjustice: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1JARfTEoDYM-Fd8PQThrjW8V1ol6g1TNo/view