The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is completing the process for a federally implemented clean air plan for Arkansas. The plan will reduce regional haze in Arkansas and Missouri to help meet federal Clean Air Act requirements. The announcement comes after several months of meaningful negotiations between EPA and Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ).

 

All wilderness areas included in the plan have already shown some improvement in visibility, one of the major goals of the federal regional haze rule.

The Clean Air Act’s regional haze rule requires states to make progress toward achieving natural visibility conditions in some of the nation’s most treasured wilderness areas. States must submit plans for achieving these progress goals by reducing harmful emissions of nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter.  

The plan would cut about 68,500 tons of SO2 emissions per year and 15,100 ton of NOx per year, which will better protect the parks and the refuge areas from hazy conditions, while also providing health and environmental benefits. In addition to forming haze and impairing visibility, SO2 can harm people’s health and the environment. SO2 reacts with other compounds in the air to form fine particles. Exposure to these small particles in the air has been linked to increased respiratory illness, decreased lung function, and even premature death. 

When state implementation plans do not meet federal requirements, EPA works with states to address deficiencies so that a new state plan can replace the federal plan.

This action will provide for better visibility for the Caney Creek Wilderness Area, Upper Buffalo Wilderness Area, Hercules-Glades Wilderness Area and Mingo National Wildlife Refuge.