VISTAS Regional Haze Project - Intro


"VISTAS" is the Visibility Improvement State and Tribal Association of the Southeast, the Regional Planning Organization (RPO) responsible for convening state, local, and tribal air pollution control agencies and collaborating on regional air quality analysis work necessary to support development of regional haze state implementation plans (SIPs).  The ten SESARM states (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN, VA, and WV), the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, and Knox County, Tennessee (representing the 17 Southeastern local air agencies) make up the participation and governing body of the VISTAS project.  Originally organized to help states meet the first regional haze planning period SIP submittal deadline of December 17, 2007, the VISTAS RPO entered into a second phase of regional haze analysis in late-2017 to assist the states during this second planning period for which revised regional haze SIPs are due to EPA by July 31, 2021.


The final organizational structure of the VISTAS II Regional Haze Project was as follows:

  • State and Tribal Air Directors (STAD)
    • Mike Dowd (VA), Chair; Laura Crowder (WV), Vice-Chair.
    • The STAD sets policy and oversees project goals and costs.
  • Coordinating Committee (CC)
    • Jim Boylan (GA) and Jimmy Johnston (TN), Co-chairs.
    • The Committee oversees operations and acts as a liaison between the STAD and work groups.
  • Technical Analysis Work Group (TAWG
    • Randy Strait (NC) and Doris McLeod (VA), Co-chairs.
    • The Work Group oversees technical tasks.including emission updates, air quality modeling, and related technical tasks.
  • SIP Development Work Group
    • Doris McLeod (VA) and Jimmy Johnston (TN), Co-chairs.
    • The Work Group was tasked with designing a comprehensive regional haze SIP template to identify all of the regulatory requirements and develop a standardized format and organization to facilitate efficient review of individual state SIPs by EPA, Federal Land Managers (FLMs), and stakeholders.


The VISTAS Project was supported by lead contractor Eastern Research Group, Inc. and subcontractor Alpine Geophysics, LLC.

The Project was funded by State and Tribal Assistance Grant (STAG) funds from U.S. EPA, primarily via a Southeastern States Air Resource Managers, Inc. (SESARM) Grant # XA-00D53517, but also by a very small amount of funding under subsequent SESARM Grant # XA-01D14120.  These grant funds covered the funding obligations of nine of the ten VISTAS states.  Virginia directly paid its funding obligation by check..

The VISTAS contract manager for most of the project was John Hornback, during his tenure as Executive Director of Metro 4/SESARM.  As of October 1, 2020, project and contract management shifted to the new Metro 4/SESARM Executive Director, Chad LaFontaine.


  • December 2017 - Initiation of detailed planning for the VISTAS Regional Haze Project (Phase II) and release of the Request for Proposals..
  • March 1, 2018 - Contract executed with ERG.
  • April 2018 - Initiation of technical work.
  • September 30, 2020 - All technical work completed.
  • October 30, 2020 - Reasonable progress analyses for certain major sources due from surrounding states (AR, MO, IN, OH, and PA).
  • October 2020-July 2021 - SIP development, FLM consultation, EPA preliminary review of draft SIPs, public comment periods, responses to comments, and completion of final SIP by each VISTAS state.
  • February 26, 2021 - Completion of all project reports, data transfers, and archival, and contract expiration.
  • July 31, 2021 - Regional haze SIPs are due at EPA Region 4.