What is a Regional Haze State Implementation Plan (SIP)?
The federal Clean Air Act contains provisions, called the regional haze provisions, that are designed to eliminate visible air pollution (i.e., haze) in certain national parks and wilderness areas. The Regional Haze rule requires each state to submit to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) an air quality protection plan to reduce the pollution that causes visibility impairment in parks and wilderness areas. The first round of regional haze plans covered 2008 through 2021. The second round of plans are due in July 2021, and cover the period from 2021 through 2028.
What is happening with Colorado’s Regional Haze SIP?
Right now, Colorado is considering the pollution controls or early retirements required to reduce haze in Colorado’s protected areas such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument. Colorado has decided to split its plan up into two separate rulemakings, with one rulemaking going on now, and a second rulemaking next spring. Each rulemaking will result in a rule approved by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) and then sent to the Colorado legislature for approval, before being sent to EPA.
In August, CDPHE proposed the following early retirements as Regional Haze requirements:
- Craig 2 coal plant (Xcel Energy is part owner): end of 2028
- Craig 3 coal plant (Tri-State): end of 2029
- Hayden 1 (Xcel Energy is part owner)): end of 2030
- Hayden 2 (Xcel Energy is part owner): end of 2036
- Drake 6 & 7 (Colorado Springs Utilities): end of 2022
- Nixon (Colorado Springs Utilities): end of 2029
- Rawhide (Platte River Power Authority): end of 2029
- Cherokee 4 gas plant (Xcel Energy): 2028
While many advocates are noting that PEOPLE need clean air now and have been waiting and breathing dirty air too long. Furthermore, other laws, like Colorado’s HB1261 passed in spring 2019, set out GHG reductions for 2025 that necessitate closing these plants down faster.
Still, big greens note that cleaner air for our National Parks also means cleaner air for our Colorado communities that live in proximity to a polluting facility such as a coal plant or gas plant. While we continue to fight for earlier retirements, these dates are a step in the right direction. The public hearing process for regional haze is an opportunity to advocate for a healthy environment while also elevating the important conversation on environmental justice for Colorado communities. In addition to protecting our parks we should be protecting our communities.
What can we do?
On November 19, from 4:30 pm to 7:30pm, CDPHE will host a hearing to hear from the public on the proposed Regional Haze SIP #2. This is our chance to make it clear that we need the Commission to view this Regional Haze rulemaking as an important step to clean up the air in Colorado’s parks and communities and hold polluters accountable to helping Colorado meet the climate pollution reduction goals in HB19-1261.
There are two ways you can help support the early retirement of Colorado’s dirtiest coal and gas plants:
- Submit a written public comment to the AQCC before November 3 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line stating “Regulation Number 3 & Regulation Number 23”
- Give a verbal public comment on November 19 between 4:30pm and 7:30pm. Details and instructions for registering for the oral public comment session will be posted with the final agenda on the Commission’s website at www.colorado.gov/pacific/cdphe/aqcc on November 6, 2020.