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EPA: WYO Still Not Clear on Haze Reduction

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 By Deb Courson, Public News Service - WY, Contact
December 15, 2009

LANDER, Wyo. - Wyoming has been put on notice by federal authorities - again - with regard to the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) plan to reduce pollution haze that comes from coal-fired power plants and trona mining operations in the state. Trona, extensively mined in Wyoming, is a sodum carbonate compound used in making chemicals.

A regional director for the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has sent a letter saying the state doesn't appear to be doing enough to address concerns detailed in previous notices, which could mean a "do-over" would be ordered.

Bruce Pendery, program director with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, is meeting with EPA officials this week on the situation. He says he expects the state plan will be tweaked to align with federal rules intended to reduce haze over national parks and wilderness areas.

"They're trying to achieve natural visibility conditions in these Class 1 areas, and what the state has been doing so far does not give us comfort that they will achieve natural visibility conditions."

If the EPA rejects the state's latest version of the plan, the federal government could step in with its own plan, according to Pendery. He says that would mean a loss of local control.

"Ultimately, if the state's proposal simply is unacceptable to the EPA, EPA does have that as the fallback."

DEQ officials have said they are meeting EPA requirements in the plan, which sets rules and time lines for industry to reduce pollution.

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