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Regional Haze

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Regional Haze

What is Regional Haze?

Air pollution in the form of haze can travel hundreds of miles, affecting the quality of the viewing experience in scenic areas. This haze is composed of small particles that absorb and scatter light, limiting what we see. Sources of this haze are both urban and rural, such as motor vehicles, power plants, industrial and manufacturing processes, and outdoor debris burning, as well as natural sources such as wildfire and windblown dust.

Oregon's Regional Haze Plan

On June 19, 2009 the Environmental Quality Commission adopted a regional haze plan for Oregon. It includes stringent pollution controls for Portland General Electric's coal-fired power plant near Boardman.

The federal Clean Air Act contains requirements to protect and improve visibility in national parks and wilderness area in the country. In 1977 Congress designated certain national parks and wilderness areas as "Class 1 areas," where visibility was identified as an important value. Currently there are 156 Class 1 areas in the country. Oregon has 12 Class 1 areas, including Crater Lake National Park and 11 wilderness areas.

To address the problem of regional haze EPA adopted the Regional Haze Rule in 1999. This rule is intended to improve visibility in Class 1 areas, including Oregon, over the next 60 years. It focuses on improving Class 1 area visibility on the haziest days (the worst 20%) and ensuring no degradation on the clearest days (the best 20%). States will be required to work together to improve visibility through interstate planning and implementation of regional strategies.

Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) Rules

"BART" refers to emissions reduction technology required by the Clean Air Act for certain older industrial facilities, like PGE’s coal-fired power plant in Boardman. The federal regional haze rule requires that older facilities go through a BART analysis now, and install emission controls if they have a significant impact on visibility in a federal wilderness areas or national parks. The following documents are federal guidelines and a 3rd party report on how to apply BART rules:

Other Haze and Visibility Programs

Regional Haze - Click to play

Regional Haze Part 1
Haze isn't just an urban phenomenon. Learn more about regional haze in the West.

Regional Haze - Click to play

Regional Haze Part 2
The continuation of the 1991 broadcast of Regional Haze in the West produced by Colorado State University CIRA.

[print version]

For more information about Air Quality call 503-229-5359 or email.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
Headquarters: 811 SW Sixth Ave., Portland, OR 97204-1390
Phone: 503-229-5696 or toll free in Oregon 1-800-452-4011
Oregon Telecommunications Relay Service: 1-800-735-2900  FAX: 503-229-6124

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a regulatory agency authorized to protect Oregon's environment by
the State of Oregon and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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