Deal forces EPA to act on 33 state haze cleanup plans

By Sean Reilly | 04/01/2024 01:25 PM EDT

The plans are supposed to cut pollution from coal-fired power plants and other sources that contribute to murk in national parks and wilderness areas.

Smog and haze over Salt Lake City.

Smog and haze hover over Salt Lake City. Brian Nicholson/Deseret News via AP

EPA would be compelled to take final action on a new round of state plans to curb haze-forming pollution in national parks and wilderness areas under a rolling series of deadlines through 2026, according to a preliminary deal.

The tentative lawsuit settlement, which still needs a judge’s signoff, would require the agency to approve or disapprove 33 plans, starting with Massachusetts’ haze reduction blueprint this June and finishing with Oklahoma’s at the end of 2026. In place of any state plan that is ultimately rejected, EPA would then have to impose a federal alternative.

The deal would end a lawsuit brought last year by the Sierra Club, National Parks Conservation Association and Environmental Integrity Project in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that alleged unlawful foot-dragging.


“This moves EPA forward,” Charles McPhedran, an Earthjustice attorney representing the three groups, said in an interview Monday. Asked about the staggered timetable, McPhedran said it was “fine-tuned a bit” so individual EPA regional offices wouldn’t have to deal with three or four state plans at the same time.