Impairment: A New Metric to Track Progress under the Regional Haze Rule

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​​Scott Copeland (USFS)​
Webinar recording from December 17​, 2015

US EPA's 1999 Regional Haze Rule (RHR) is the only Clean Air Act program aimed solely at protecting the visual air quality, or "visibility" in many wildernesses, national parks, and wildlife refuges.  Progress is being made towards the Clean Air Act goal of no manmade visibility impairment in class I areas, however, haze from wildfires and prescribed fires has made it difficult for many states to demonstrate that progress.  While the largest recent effects from smoke are seen in western states, fossil fuel emissions reductions in the east will lead to the same issue arising in eastern states in the near future.
For the past year, US EPA has collaborated with federal land managers, and consulted with state air agencies to develop a new metric that focuses attention on anthropogenic emissions.  The new metric can be easily calculated from IMPROVE data, and provides a new method for states to demonstrate progress towards the Regional Haze Rule goal.​