Regional Haze in Alaska


Image of Denali National Park

Regional haze refers to haze that impairs visibility in all directions over a large area. The distance that one can see is limited because of tiny particles in the air absorbing and scattering sunlight, which in turn degrades color, contrast, and clarity of the view. On July 1, 1999 the Environmental Protection Agency announced a rule designed to protect and improve visibility in 156 national parks and wilderness areas throughout the country. The Regional Haze Rule only affects Class I national parks and wilderness areas. Alaska has only four Class I areas subject to the rule, they are:

  • Denali National Park
  • Tuxedni Wilderness Area
  • Simeonof Wilderness Area
  • Bering Sea Wilderness Area
  • The Regional Haze Rule establishes specific State Implementation Plan (SIP) requirements and strategies to adopt when implementing a plan. States must develop long-term plans for reducing pollutant emissions that contribute to visibility degradation and within the plans establish goals aimed at improving visibility in Class I areas. The SIP must address haze caused by all sources of pollutants that impair visibility including haze caused from smoke, vehicles, electric utility and industrial fuel burning, and other activities that generate pollution.

    The EPA is also in the process of developing a BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) rule to address regional haze. Due to a recent court decision, the release of final BART guidelines has been delayed. This rule could impact older facilities that fall in certain categories by requiring them to install the best available retrofit technology.

    To learn more about regional haze, see the following links:

    Alaska Regional Haze Documents:

    Alaska Regional Haze Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) Documents

    Image credit: Denali National Park and Preserve, © Alaska Division of Tourism