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EPA revisits Utah’s regional haze plan for better air quality

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt stops in Utah.

SALT LAKE CITY – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will reconsider a 2015 Obama Administration ruling regarding regional haze in southern Utah.

In Salt Lake City Tuesday, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, said he wants states to have the power to control the haze, and he gave Governor Gary Herbert, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and the Utah Division of Environmental Quality the go-ahead.

“To craft that plan to achieve good air quality standards and let them lead as opposed to the U.S. government trying to coerce or force that upon the state of Utah,” Pruitt said.

After receiving letters from the UDEQ and PacifiCorp, which owns the Hunter and Huntington Power Plants in Carbon County, Pruitt responded in a letter dated Tuesday, July 14.

The letters from the Utah parties identified new information that was not available when the EPA took action on Utah’s 2015 regional haze plan.

The letters also state that UDEQ and PacifiCorp will submit new visibility modeling and other information relevant to the Utah alternative to requiring the best available retrofit technology for the two coal-fired power plants.

Pruitt said states have worked very hard to have the technical expertise, resources and the know-how to achieve successful outcomes regarding the haze.

“I think that what’s key here is that the voice of Utah, the voice of citizens in Utah, the Governor, the DEQ, his office, the Department of Natural Resources, all those folks that make up that plan,” Pruitt said.

Based on the newly-provided information, explanations and plans for future analyses, the EPA has decided to reconsider its prior action on Utah’s 2015 regional haze plan.

It will commence a notice-and-comment rule-making in which it will use its inherent authority to reconsider the final rule in Trujillo v. Gen. Elec. Co.

“The state of Utah has been asking the EPA to allow it the opportunity to craft a new plan to deal with how they’re going to achieve, the state of Utah, better outcomes with air quality and regional haze,” Pruitt said, “and the previous administration did not grant that, the previous administration was not responsive to Utah in that regard.”