EPA tells AZ it needs to do more to clean up 'haze' - Tucson News Now

EPA tells AZ it needs to do more to clean up 'haze'

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Another major issue for the state is getting rid of the haze, the federal government has said Arizona can do more to clean its air.

The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing ways Arizona can cut down on pollution in six areas across the state, including right here in Tucson.

The EPA says Arizona didn't fully meet the requirements of the Clean Air Act and the EPA's regional haze rule; they want the state to clean up its air so Arizona's beauty isn't scarred by damaging pollution.

It was mostly clear skies and beautiful weather at Pima Canyon Trail as one Tucson snowbird can attest - Julie Tillotson said she loves to hike and the trail is beautiful, referring to the view. "But you know, I don't know if it's the time of day, but even the mountains on the other side of Tucson are kind of obscured.  I don't know if that's haze, or what that is," said Tillotson.

Haze, many residents already know what that looks like, but today's sky haze is a far cry from what it has been in the past. 

"Haze is created by pollutants like nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate," said Colleen McKaughan, from the EPA. 

The EPA is trying to come up with ways to cut Arizona's haze problems, so the visibility at state parks and wilderness areas is not affected by the brown cloud.

"Make sure the beauty of these areas is available to everyone who wants to visit them," said McKaughan.

In Tucson one proposal would require Tucson Electric Power to stop using coal and convert to natural gas for fuel. 

"The move to end use of coal as a fuel source provides the best environmental benefits, but it's also the cost-effective option," said Tucson Electric Power spokesperson Joseph Barrios.

As for the snowbird hiker, Tillotson who is also a member of the Sierra Club, she hopes Arizona does everything it can to keep the air as clean as possible. 

All of these proposals are still in the public comment phase, which will close at the end of March.  A final draft of recommendations will be made in June.  If all six sites do what the EPA suggests, then 33,000 tons of pollutants could be eliminated every year.

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