* Haze rules applies to old industrial facilities
* Plans to lower haze were due from states in 2007
By Ayesha Rascoe
WASHINGTON, Nov 9 The U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency on Wednesday said it has reached a deal with
green groups to finalize more than 40 overdue state plans aimed
at lowering haze in national parks and wilderness areas.
The agreement settles a lawsuit brought against the agency
in August and lays out a schedule for the EPA to evaluate state
haze plans over the next year. In cases where EPA does not
approve a state proposal, the agency will have to develop a
Environmental groups sued the EPA to force the agency to
complete its review of regional haze plans, which would limit
emissions from old industrial facilities that lower visibility
in national parks.
The EPA issued a rule in 1999 that called for states to
submit their plans to deal with haze pollution by 2007, but
most states still had not completed their plans more than a
year after that deadline.
Since then, states have made "significant progress," with
nearly all states submitting the required plans, the EPA said.
Pollutants blamed for haze including nitrogen oxides,
sulfur dioxide and particles can cause increased asthma
symptoms and premature death.
"There should be no more delays in cleaning up the dirty
air in these majestic places," said David Baron of
Earthjustice, a law firm that represented the groups in the
case over the haze plans.
The regional haze program requires stationary sources such
as power plants, cement plants and large industrial boilers
that are between 35 and 50 years old and may have impact on
parks and wilderness areas to install pollution controls.
Some areas may be able to utilize controls already in place
or that are planned for compliance with other EPA regulations
to meet their haze requirements.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; editing by Bob Burgdorfer)