The Commonwealth of Virginia strongly supports protection of visibility in our national parks. We believe, however, that a more effect and efficient regional haze program will result if EPA's proposed regional haze regulation is revised to address visibility in a more stable and practical way.

I would like to begin with a number of issues regarding Virginia's planning obligations made the Clean Air Act.

First, we appreciate Congress's efforts in passing TEA-21 and adapting the timelines for the regional haze and PM-2.5 programs so that they coincide. As you know, the eastern states have been focusing on health-related pollutants and have thereby been unable to devote the resources needed to address the issue of regional haze. The additional planning time this revision to the law creates will enable us to properly assess own regional haze conditions and develop effective strategies. It is important both administratively and environmentally for regional haze and PM-2.5 to follow on a parallel track.

Second, states should be allowed to abandon the deciview and no degradation targets, as well as the technology requirements, and develop their own goals and programs for visibility improvement. More detail on these issues is provided later in this document.

The proposal also requires each state to submit revised SIPs which provide for periodic revision of the long-term strategy. Such periodic SIP revisions are not required by the Clean Air Act are not needed to meet the national goal, and will draw on resources better used for pollution control elsewhere. The SIP decisions that EPA proposes for tracking reasonable progress are unecessarily frequent and resource intensive. Note that Sec. 169 of the Clean Air Act clearly makes EPA responsible for evaluating visibility improvement over time. Therefore, each state should not be required to individually assess improvements through continual SIP revisions.

Other issues related to regional planning are raised by EPA's proposal.

-- Regional haze is an issue that must be addressed through coordination of states, localities, and other stakeholders. The traditional methods of states and localities addressing control measures within their boundaries to resolve localized air pollution control programs cannot address regional haze problems. One state has no authority over any other state to implement control measures. For most mandatory Class I areas, the host state cannot individually implement control measures that will ensure improvement in visibility within the Class I area. Transport regions and commissions will be required to implement effective regional programs for visibility improvements.

-- EPA encourages regional stakeholder coordination to address regional haze, but does not address how such efforts will be facilitated or provide incentives for stakeholders to participate. Congress acknowledged the need far multi-state coordination in the Clean Air Act by establishing the authority for EPA to establish visibility transport regions and commissions. As states do not have authority over other states to address regional emissions, the authority established in the Clean Air Act is also clearly EPA's responsibility. EPA must take an active role in establishing and facilitating these regional efforts.

The proposal requires that individual states address and justify control programs individually. This is a disincentive to expend the resources to coordinate with regional grows. The regional haze rule must also directly allow for the implementation of programs developed through the removal coordination process.

We recommend that EPA allow all regions of the country to follow the process used by the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission. This commission was created in order for the states to take the lead in developing regional visibility objectives, with EPA taking a supporting role. In order for EPA to know what requirements for visibility SIPs to include in the removal haze rule, the other regions need to form their own commissions.

Further, the proposed rule does not allow for direct implementation of program by the Grand Canyon or other commissions for the control of regional haze. The final rule should allow for a state to incorporate the recommendations of a regional commission as part of its SIP without having to justify the program individually.

The inadequacy of EPA's proposed approach to regional planning is highlighted in its recent action with a particular group of states. Recently, EPA issued a supplemental notice on implementation in response to a request from the Western Governor's Association, which solicits comment on the Association's suggestion for how the proposal should be changed in order to accommodate the recommendations of the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission. The recommendations specify the visibility goals for eight western states, and would make the proposed rule more flexible. No such flexibility has been afforded to any other states. It is important for EPA to recognize that the other states any regions need the same opportunity to address their specific regional concerns.

-- The proposal also requires all states to submit an initial visibility SIP and subsequent SIP revisions every three years. If a state determines that its overall contribution to regional haze is insignificant or that the contribution from particular sources within the state is insignificant, it should be exempt from further involvement in the regional haze program. EPA is authorized by the Clean Air Act to exempt major stationary sources that do not "contribute to significant impairment." Exempting sources that make insignificant emissions contributions is also reasonable.

Further, the proposal is unclear about the respective roles authority of the federal land managers' the states and tribes, and regional commissions and partnerships in the BART process. EPA should clearly define who determines, reasonable attribution for an out-of-state source that contributes to regional haze, and whether a Class I area host state can trigger BART for any stationary source that contributes to regional haze.

-- The proposal requires development of a monitoring plan with a revision no later than four years from the date of the initial plan, and additional revisions every three years thereafter. Formal submittal of monitoring plans on this schedule is a duplicative use of limited resources.

Also of concern are some program and technical issues.

-- Given that regional haze is a welfare, not health issue, EPA should abandon the deciview standard and allow states the flexibility to develop their own visibility improvement goals and programs. Regional haze measures should focus more directly on scenic viewing and use a system that has more of a relationship to the public's overall ability to experience improved viewing. Use of the deciview scale, as proposed by EPA, does not provide an accurate measurement of the total viewing experience.

-- The proposal emphasizes the Best Available Retrofit Technology for point source emission control, and identifies the private sector in the western United States as being most affected. EPA agrees with the Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission's recommendations for addressing stationary sources by providing a "flexible air quality planning framework to facilitate the interstate coordination necessary to reduce regional haze visibility impairment m mandatory Class I Federal areas nationwide." It is not clear, however, how the BART program provides flexibility, as it is experiencing costly analytical technical and legal challenges that would divert scarce state resources. The regulations should explicitly allow for alternatives to the BART process, for example, market trading programs and emission caps.

-- Another issue is the reduction of fine particulate, which scatters light and contributes to haze. About 73 percent of these particles are from fine dust, some of which is naturally generated by wind and some of which is emitted from activities such as farming, industry, and travel. All of these activities are very difficult to control; nor is it clear what share of particulate comes from natural sources versus emissions from human sources. The proportion of these emissions must be determined and suitable controls must be implemented. It would be unfair to burden the states with target reduction rates unless research establishes where and how these reductions can be met.

How different types of emission sources are treated are another important aspect of the proposed haze regulation.

-- Reducing area source emission will be critical to reducing visibility impairment, yet emission factors are not well developed for many area sources. This is an issue requiring EPA's prompt attention, since progress in addressing area sources cannot be made until emission factors are more highly refined. Use urge EPA to improve area source emission factors and develop appropriate national controls.

-- Another significant of area source is fire suppression, which was considered effective land management for many decades. The states require more specific guidance on how prescribed fire activity should be incorporated into their regional haze programs.

-- As with area and point sources, national controls for mobile sources will play a role in reducing regional haze. The preamble to the proposal includes language on mobile sources that is consistent with the Grand Canyon Commission's recommendation that some sources are best controlled at the federal level. Yet, the proposal itself does not include a commitment by EPA to impose federal controls. It is important for EPA to develop national measures to address mobile sources.

The relationship between states and federal entities is another important issue facing control of regional haze.

-- A cooperative consultation process between Federal Land Managers and states is critical to the achievement of regional haze goals. EPA should clarify that such cooperation and consultation will take place between FLMs and state environmental agencies.

Finally, I would like to address the issue of resources needed by Virginia order to implement any form of regional haze program.

-- The proposed regulation places significant new burdens on states without indicating from where to resources necessary to support these efforts will come. BART assessments are technically rigorous and controversial. Monitoring is resource intensive, particularly given the remote locations which many of the monitors will be sited. Assessment of progress in improving visibility will depend on a clear understanding of source/receptor relationships, highlighting the need for significant improvements in model input parameters. EPA support to the statics is essential if those tasks are to be performed effectively.

-- In addition to technical and administrative assistance, no regional haze program will succeed unless accompanied by additional federal funding. States cannot divert funds allotted for efforts related to implementation of the health-based PM-2.5, PM-10, and ozone standards to address regional haze. The success of the regional haze program hinges on EPA's financial support.

We understand and appreciate that EPA is carefully considering state's comments in revising the regional haze rule. I now wish to reiterate that Virginia would like to see as many of the states comments incorporated into the rule as possible.