Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona's Sixth District, today along with Congressmen Rick Berg of South Dakota, Paul Gosar of Arizona, and James Lankford of Oklahoma offered an amendment to H.R. 3409, the Stop the War on Coal Act of 2012. The amendment would reassert that the states -- not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) -- are and ought to be the primary regulatory authorities with regard to regional haze programs. The amendment passed, 228 to 183.
The amendment is necessitated by Arizona's particular and acute problems as a result of EPA usurping the state's authority to regulate regional haze, a federal program meant to address visibility at National Parks and wilderness areas. In early 2011, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality submitted a regional haze plan for approval. EPA ignored the state submitted plan and was subsequently sued by environmentalists. Unfortunately for Arizona residents, EPA agreed via consent decree to usurp the state's role and finalize a draconian federal regional haze plan in Arizona. As a result of EPA's plan, Arizona's coal-fired power plant units are facing unprecedented and costly emissions limits that reportedly will do little to improve visibility.
"The EPA has been superseding states' authority and setting regional haze controls that cost millions to implement but actually do very little to improve air visibility," said Flake. "States like Arizona ought to have primary regulatory authority when it comes to controlling regional haze. We've got to keep the EPA in check on this."