|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||September 23, 2003|
|Contact:||Andrea Keller, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-454-3332|
Statement by Thomas C. Kiernan, NPCA president, about Governor Leavitt's Nomination
If confirmed, he will be challenged to protect the same national parks he stood-up for as Governor while working within an administration that earned a D-minus from NPCA earlier this year for a series of damaging park policies.
Over the past three years, the Bush administration has promised to “restore and renew” the national parks. While doing some good things for parks, the administration has also backed away from effective enforcement of the Clean Air Act to improve air quality in parks. In fact, the Bush administration on August 25 issued changes that will relax pollution-control regulations for thousands of power plants and factories and undermine the Clean Air Act—at the expense of the health of our families and the national parks.
Additionally, the administration’s Clear Skies Initiative repeals or significantly weakens many provisions of existing law that have protected health and the environment. In fact, Clear Skies would eliminate a program to improve haze in the national parks that the Washington, D.C., circuit court ruled EPA must implement under the new administrator. This presents a challenge for Governor Leavitt, who has been rightfully credited with tackling haze in Grand Canyon National Park through his participation in the Western Regional Air Partnership and other efforts.
Our parks need greater protections. Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California has had one of its worst years on record for exceeding the Environmental Protection Agency’s health-based ozone standards. In 2002, NPCA and two partners named Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee as the most polluted national park in the country, based on more than 10 years of National Park Service data. Last summer, the park recorded 42 days of unhealthy air, surpassing polluted metropolitan areas such as Atlanta.