On Feb. 7, several environmental groups officially notified the EPA that they intended to file a lawsuit to force the EPA to act on 39 overdue state regional haze plans and trigger an account. countdown to the release of federal implementation plans (FIPs) to replace deficient state haze reduction. programs. The groups allege that the EPA missed the deadline to issue “non-submission findings” for state implementation plans (SIPs) that were not submitted by states, which were due before July 31, 2021.
Under the CAA, if a state does not submit a SIP, or if a state’s SIP has not been approved by the EPA, the EPA must issue a FIP within two years of finding the defect. of submission. As many will recall, during Regional Haze’s early planning period, the issuance of FIPs by the EPA caused considerable anguish for the regulated community, and several states sued to regain control of their Regional Haze plans. The EPA is still trying to fix the Haze FIP issues. For example, the state of Wyoming is still negotiating with the EPA regarding fog control requirements for the PacifiCorp Jim Bridger coal plant. If the court’s motion is granted, the EPA could be required to adopt FIPs or take specific steps to ensure approvable state haze plans. If the EPA chooses to adopt FIPs, the regulated community and states will likely push back and sue as they did in the first round, suing the EPA for implementing an unreasonable rejection of approvable SIPs in favor of a PIF.
A complicated new dynamic has been added to the second round of Regional Haze: Environmental Justice (EJ) issues. Even though the primary goal of the Regional Haze program is to improve visibility, environmental groups are still pushing the EPA to consider EJ issues that can arise due to the presence of haze. It is unclear how states or the regulated community will ensure that EE issues are properly addressed during the planning process or what will even be expected of them bearing in mind that regional Haze standards are not health based.
Facilities that are subject to Round 2 of the Regional Haze planning process requirements should ensure that they understand the Regional Haze program and what will be required of their facility under a SIP or possible FIP. . To help with communication and support of local agency haze plans, as well as guidance on the planning process and any future EPA action, please contact an attorney at Clark Hill Environmental & Natural Resources.