North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality holds hearing on regional haze

The North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) held a hearing May 31 on the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for the second round of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Regional Haze Program.

The Regional Haze Rule, published in 1999, requires states to develop and implement air quality protection plans to improve visibility in national parks and wilderness areas (Class I Areas).

The Regional Haze regulations are to be implemented in a series of planning periods with the goal of achieving natural visibility conditions at designated Class I areas by 2064. The first planning period ended in 2018. The second planning period goes through 2028.

NDDEQ found the primary causes of visibility impairment in North Dakota are wildfires and international emissions from Canada. The division has reviewed modeling conducted by the Western Regional Air Partnership which shows imposing more controls on power plants will not be cost-effective. NDDEQ said that more than $2 billion in investments in environmental controls have been made by the power generation industry over the past decade, which has reduced emissions by 66%. North Dakota is on track to meet the 2064 EPA goal to eliminate all man-made visibility impairment at national parks and wilderness areas.

The Lignite Energy Council submitted comments during the hearing on behalf of its members, including Basin Electric.

The comment period regarding North Dakota’s SIP for the second implementation period of the Regional Haze Rule was open through June 1. States were required to submit their SIPs by July 31, 2021, but more than 30 states did not meet that deadline including North Dakota, in part due to delays in modeling. States can avoid being included in a failure to submit action if their SIPs are submitted by Aug. 15, 2022.