The EPA has reopened the comment period -- until Sept. 30 -- for its controversial "regional haze" rule first proposed last year. Aimed at improving visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas, the proposal would require states to order strict emissions reductions by industrial facilities often hundreds of miles away.
The new comment period came as a result of a Congressional mandate, as part of this summer's highway legislation, ordering a delay in the haze rule to bring the compliance timetable in line with the agency's new rules on particulate matter and ozone. Congress ordered the slowdown in response to lobbying by industry groups and the Western Governors Assn. The proposal is expected to be finalized this fall.
In another recent action, the EPA has announced a final rule tightening emission standards for nitrogen oxides (Nox) from new electric-utility and industrial boilers. The EPA, which estimates that 381 new industrial boilers and 17 utility boilers will be built in the next five years, explains that Nox is one of the primary ingredients of smog and a contributor to acid rain.