What is regional haze?
Good visibility is essential to the enjoyment of national parks and scenic
areas. “Regional haze” is air pollution that is transported long distances and
reduces the visibility in these areas.
The federal Clean Air Act contains requirements for states to protect and
improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas in the country. In
1977 Congress designated certain national parks and wilderness areas as “Class I
areas”, where visibility was identified as an important value. Oregon has 12
Class I areas, including Crater Lake National Park and 11 wilderness areas.
Regional haze rule
To address the problem of regional haze, the Environmental Protection Agency
adopted the Regional Haze Rule in 1999. This rule is intended to improve
visibility in all Class I areas, including Oregon, over the next 60 years. It
focuses on improving Class I area visibility on the haziest days (the worst 20%)
and ensuring no degradation on the clearest days (the best 20%).
States were required to submit initial regional haze implementation plans
that identified goals and strategies for visibility improvement. States are then
required to revise implementation plan every 10-years, and submit progress
reports at interim points between implementation plan submittals.
On June 19, 2009 the Environmental Quality Commission adopted a regional haze
plan for Oregon. On Dec. 9, 2010, the Commission adopted revisions to
the plan that would ultimately close the PGE Boardman coal-fired power plant by
2020 but also put in place a number of other strategies that would improve
visibility in Class I areas.
Selected federal, tribal and state officials are invited, during the next 60
days beginning Feb. 4, 2016, to review the 5 year update report on progress
achieved to date under the Oregon regional haze plan. The documents, consisting
of a main report and four supporting appendices are found below. Comments must
be submitted before 5 p.m. on April 4. The report will be presented for
consideration and approval by the Oregon Environmental Quality Commission in
November 2016 before being submitted to EPA for approval.
Specific questions required to be addressed in this report by the federal
regional haze rule include:
- What are the current visibility conditions for the most impaired (worst) and
least impaired (best) days?
- What is the difference between current visibility conditions and baseline
conditions for the most impaired and least impaired days?
- What is the change in emissions that occurred between the baseline period
and the progress period?
The regional haze rule also requires states to evaluate the sufficiency of
current implementation plan elements and strategies to meet reasonable progress
goals. Specific regulatory questions that address evaluation requirements
- What is the status of implementation of all measures included in the
- What emissions reductions have been achieved through implementation of these
- What emissions from within or outside of the state have limited or impeded
progress in reducing pollutant emission and improving visibility?
- Are current implementation plan elements and strategies sufficient to enable
the state or other states with mandatory federal Class I Areas affected by the
state, to meet all established reasonable progress goals?