Appeals court rejects five-state plan for clean park air

A market-based program used by five Western states to control haze in national parks and wilderness areas was rejected by a federal appeals court Friday. Brought to court in a challenge by a coal and utilities industry group, the states’ efforts to cut sulfur-dioxide pollution and improve air quality and visibility in the parks was dealt a blow when a three-judge panel concluded that the program used EPA methodology that was thrown out three years ago for being “inconsistent with the Clean Air Act.” The states involved in the now-defunct plan — Arizona, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, and Wyoming — will head “back to the drawing board,” said Joseph Mikitish, an assistant attorney general for Arizona. “We are disappointed,” said EPA spokesperson Cynthia Bergman. “We will continue to work with the Western states and with all other states that seek to use such trading programs to achieve these goals.”