Five Western states surpass regional haze reduction goal

Arizona Department of Environmental Quality Director Steve Owens announced on June 8 that Arizona and four other Western states have surpassed their joint goal for achieving significant reductions in annual sulfur dioxide emissions, a major contributor to regional haze.

Owens said that five western states -- Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming -- worked cooperatively to reduce regional sulfur dioxide emissions from major stationary sources by more than 124,000 tons in 2003. Actual emissions reported by the five states totaled 322,322 tons, or 28 percent below the 2003 goal of 446,908 tons.

All five states are members of the Western Regional Air Partnership, a voluntary organization of western states, tribes and federal agencies that addresses air-quality issues in the West. Arizona is a state leader in WRAP. Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) is the co-chair of WRAP, and Owens helps oversee and direct the WRAP's activities.

"We are working hard to improve visibility in the West," Owens said. "This illustrates that multi-state, regional approaches to regional haze are very effective even as Western states experience unprecedented growth and development. We have to keep moving forward to protect air quality in the West."

Regional haze is defined as visibility impairment that is caused by the emission of air pollutants from numerous sources located over a wide geographic area.

"Through our work with other states in the WRAP, ADEQ is taking a leadership role in improving air quality and shaping regional haze policy in the West," Owens said.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/2005 issue of Environmental Protection.

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