Statement in Response to EPA's Announcement Today of Clean Air Act Rollbacks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   June 13, 2002
Contact:   Joy Oakes, Director, Mid-Atlantic Region, 202-454-3386
Don Barger, Senior Director, Southeast Region, 865-803-4480


Statement in Response to EPA's Announcement Today of Clean Air Act Rollbacks

Washington, D.C. - "The Administration's proposed rollback of the Clean Air Act would result in more pollution in America's parks and communities. Our parks already are suffering from pollution overload. A quarter of a century after Congress declared that our national parks should have the nation's cleanest air, many of our most-visited parks have some of the nation's dirtiest air. With this action, the Administration is taking care of the big polluters, not America's national parks.

"An effective and enforceable New Source Review (NSR) program is essential to protect national parks from existing and future adverse impacts. There is simply no combination of emissions reductions that will clear the air in our parks without cleaning up old, grandfathered power plants, which for 25 years have enjoyed a competitive advantage over newer, cleaner plants. The Administration should be figuring out how to clean up these ancient facilities, rather than how to let them pollute even more.

"How dangerous is air pollution in national parks even under current, stricter standards? It would have been less threatening to your health on Tuesday morning to walk to work in Washington, D.C., which was under a code red pollution alert, than to have hiked an equal distance on the Appalachian Trail in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where ozone levels were about three times the level of those in Washington. Over the past four summers, the park has issued 140 notices of 'unhealthful air' to park staff and visitors.

"Air pollution is one of the most critical threats our parks face, and the Administration proposal will only make the threat worse. While visibility impairment from air pollution is widespread throughout the park system, scenic views are not the only resource at risk. The same pollutants that reduce visibility also contribute to 30,000 premature human deaths yearly. Acid deposition damages natural and cultural resources. Mercury deposition threatens fish and wildlife in a number of parks, including Everglades National Park. Ground level ozone, or smog, threatens the health of park visitors and workers and damages park vegetation. Finally, as the Bush Administration's 2002 U.S. Climate Action Report concludes, global warming—a byproduct of air pollution—threatens parks in many ways, from rising sea level to melting glaciers to changes in biodiversity."

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