|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||November 22, 2002|
|Contact:||Joy Oakes, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3386
Jill Stephens, National Parks Conservation Association, 865-329-2424 x27
Statement of Joy Oakes on release of Environmental Protection Agency rollback of the Clean Air Act
The law requires, and the public expects, national parks to have clean air, yet air pollution in a number of our iconic parks rivals that of the most-polluted cities. Old coal- and oil-burning power plants, which produce six to twelve times more pollution than do newer facilities, surround America's most-polluted national parks, including Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, and Mammoth Cave.
Damage from these emissions is evident in national parks. In the Smokies, high ozone levels have made the air unhealthy to breathe on more than 170 summer days since 1998. Streams in Shenandoah National Park continue to grow more acidic and less able to support fish, even acid-tolerant brook trout. Scenic views in the East that once stretched more than 100 miles now average less than 25 because of air pollution. The same pollution that harms parks also threatens nearby communities.
Congress created the New Source Review program in 1977 to clean the oldest smokestacks. When modifications extending the life of these older facilities increased emissions, New Source Review required operators to install pollution controls. Although many plants made modifications throughout the 1980s and1990s, few operate today with modern pollution controls.
Today, EPA finalized changes to this program and unveiled future plans to allow the oldest, dirtiest facilities to maintain the polluted status quo. Despite many requests over the past year, EPA failed to make information about the impacts of these changes to human health and national parks available to the public. Adding insult to injury, previous provisions to safeguard national parks and wilderness areas from increased pollution may be missing.
The science and regulation of air pollution is complex. One thing, however, is simple: To protect human and environmental health, we must reduce air pollution in national parks and communities across the country. Today's announcement takes a giant leap in the wrong direction.