New Mexico
Environment Department

Contact Information:
(505) 827-2855 MAIN // 1-800-219-6157 (toll free)
Environmental Emergencies:
505-827-9329 (24 hrs)

Air Quality Bureau

Regional Haze Archive

The blue skies and scenic vistas of New Mexico are considered some of the most beautiful in the United States. While New Mexico’s residents and visitors frequently enjoy good visibility, air pollutants interfering with light transmission can impose limitations on aesthetic appreciation of scenery. Visibility is the term used to characterize physical limitations in the atmosphere that affect our ability to see clearly. Human-caused pollution of varied concentrations and sizes in the atmosphere can impair or reduce visibility. Widespread visibility impairment caused by pollutants from a variety of sources and activities over a broad geographic area is known as regional haze.

EPA’s Regional Haze program addresses reduced visibility in national parks and wilderness areas. Some haze-causing particles are emitted directly into the air, such as dust and soot. Others, however, form from chemical reactions of other gases emitted into the air. States must address visibility impairment caused by particulate matter (PM), sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Pollutants that cause haze may also form ground-level ozone.

For more information on visibility and regional haze, visit EPA’s Regional Haze web pages. The December 2016 Regional Haze Rule became effective January 10, 2017. EPA prepared a fact sheet to accompany this rule.

Sulfur Dioxide Milestone Reports

2013 Regional Haze Progress Report

NMED prepared the 2013 Regional Haze Progress Report as required by 40 CFR § 51.309 to evaluate the state’s progress towards the reasonable progress goal for each Class I area located within the state and in each Class I area located outside the state which may be affected by emissions from within the state. On December 31, 2003 and June 29, 2011, the State of New Mexico submitted regional haze SIPs to meet the requirements of 40 CFR § 51.309 (the “Section 309 SIP”) and 51.309(g) (the “Section 309(g) SIP”). The Section 309 SIP addresses the first phase of regional haze requirements, with an emphasis on stationary source sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission reductions and a focus on improving visibility on the Colorado Plateau. The Section 309(g) SIP addresses the visibility requirements and improvements in New Mexico’s remaining eight Class I areas. The 2013 Progress Report does not impose any new regulatory requirements.

The New Mexico Environment Department submitted the 2013 regional haze progress report to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on March 11, 2014. No public hearing was held since no requests for hearing were received.

2013 Revisions to New Mexico State Implementation Plans for Regional Haze and Interstate Transport

On September 5, 2013, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board unanimously adopted revisions to New Mexico’s State Implementation Plan for Regional Haze with respect to the Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) Determination for nitrogen oxides (NOx) at the San Juan Generating Station. In addition, the Environmental Improvement Board adopted revisions to the interstate transport State Implementation Plan (CAA Section 110(a)(2)(D)(ii) “good neighbor” provisions) for the 8-hour ozone and PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards promulgated in July 1997. The hearing was held in Farmington.

2011 Regional Haze State Implementation Plan and Interstate Transport SIP Revisions

The entire 2011 Regional Haze SIP and Interstate Transport SIP submittals can be found here.

This page includes analyses, hearing exhibits, appendices, rule revisions, notices and comments regarding the June 2011 hearings. The Air Quality Bureau held two public meetings on the proposed revisions: May 3, 2011 in Farmington; and May 4, 2011 in Santa Fe.

The following EPA approvals were subsequently received:

Regional Haze Issues

Regional Haze is haze that reduces long range visibility over a wide region, that is, over a portion of a state or several states. Haze is caused by fine particles in the air that are so small they settle out only very slowly. Because of the harm that haze does to visibility in National Parks and wilderness areas, many efforts to control and reduce man-made haze, and the air pollutants that cause it, are under way – through national laws and regional collaboration. Such a collaboration, involving states, Indian tribes, industry, and environmental advocates, is the Western Regional Air Partnership (WRAP), under the auspices of the Western Governors’ Association.

The WRAP develops the technical and policy tools needed by the western states and tribes to comply with the EPA’s regional haze regulations. WRAP activities are conducted by a network of forums and committees composed of members and stakeholders who represent a wide range of viewpoints; public involvement is an integral part of the Partnership. For more information on the WRAP, please visit their web site.

Here are more links to sites that work with visibility and regional haze issues:

Reasonable Progress 4 Factor Evaluation Project

§308(d)(1) of the Regional Haze Rule requires States to set reasonable progress goals toward meeting a national goal of natural visibility conditions in Class I areas by the year 2064. The first reasonable progress goals will be established for the planning period 2008 to 2018 and the Regional Haze Rule identifies four factors which should be considered in evaluating potential emission control measures to meet those visibility goals. As listed in §308(d)(1)(i) these four factors are as follows:

  1. Cost of compliance
  2. Time necessary for compliance
  3. Energy and non-air quality environmental impacts of compliance
  4. Remaining useful life of any existing source subject to such requirements

Several WRAP States requested help in evaluating these four factors for additional control measures (beyond BART). These States first requested evaluation of a series of General Source Categories. In addition, five states (including New Mexico), also identified specific Stationary Sources located within their respective states for which they wanted a detailed control evaluation conducted.

The Scope of Work for this project, the specific source spreadsheet and drafts of the control measure evaluation reports are now posted on the Implementation Workgroup “documents” page at:

1999 Regional Haze Rule – 64 FR 35714 and 1999 Regional Haze Rule Fact Sheet

Annex to the 1999 Regional Haze Rule and Fact Sheet

Additional Recommendations Report

The Grand Canyon Visibility Transport Commission (GCVTC) issued in 1996 a set of recommendations for protecting visibility in mandatory federal Class I areas on the Colorado Plateau in its report entitled Recommendations for Improving Western Vistas. Many, but not all, of the GCVTC recommendations were included in the Regional Haze Rule. The report below describes measures being taken in New Mexico to implement the GCVTC recommendations that were not in the Regional Haze Rule. Although not a part of New Mexico’s SIP, this report was compiled in accordance with Section 309(d)(9) of the Regional Haze Rule and will be updated periodically.

2003 Report to EPA – Progress on GCVTC Recommendations, December 2003

For inquiries related to the development of the NM Regional Haze SIP, contact Cindy Hollenberg at (505) 476-4356 or