Air Pollution:

Regional Approaches Are Needed to Protect Visibility in National Parks and Wilderness Areas

T-RCED-94-102: Published: Apr 29, 1994. Publicly Released: Apr 29, 1994.

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GAO discussed federal and state efforts to address the visibility problems caused by air pollution in national parks and wilderness areas. GAO noted that: (1) efforts to control air pollution from individual sources near park and wilderness areas have had only a limited impact and are costly and difficult to implement; (2) some pollution sources are exempt from program requirements either because they existed prior to 1977 or because they fall below the emission threshold; (3) efforts to address visibility impairment have been limited; and (4) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) needs to initiate other control measures to address visibility impairment in park and wilderness areas.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: On April 29, 1994, the EPA Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation announced the agency's strategy to address regional haze in class I areas, under the authority of sections 169A and B of the Clean Air Act, as it prepares to respond to the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission report. EPA interprets its responsibility to include issuing rules to address regional haze. To initiate the rulemaking process, in August 1994, EPA officials submitted the necessary forms to start the process of developing a regional haze protection regulation. In September 1994, EPA established a regional haze protection workgroup which has met to discuss the development of regional haze regulations. The agency plans to issue a regional haze rule by January 1997, if the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission report is issued on time.

    Recommendation: The Administrator, EPA, should begin developing a control strategy for addressing visibility impairment caused by regional sources.

    Agency Affected: Environmental Protection Agency


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