Smithsonian Magazine Decries Air Pollution in National Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   May 26, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


Smithsonian Magazine Decries Air Pollution in National Parks

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today praised Smithsonian magazine’s June article about air pollution in the national parks, and encouraged the administration to crack down on polluters and improve park air quality.

“As Smithsonian reports, air pollution has contaminated national parks from Maine to California,” said NPCA Air Program Director Mark Wenzler. “We feel strongly that the administration should enforce current law and require every major polluter to use available technology to reduce emissions. After decades of delay, that would put us on the path to clearing up the pollution now choking many of America’s national parks.”

Hundreds of older coal-fired power plants and other large factories spew pollution that fouls national parks—adversely affecting plants, wildlife, and the health of park visitors. According to Code Red: America's Five Most Polluted Parks, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina is the most polluted park in the nation, followed closely by Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Acadia National Park in Maine, and Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks in California. Issued in 2004, the report was jointly produced by NPCA, Appalachian Voices, and Our Children's Earth Foundation.

Unfortunately, rather than faithfully enforce the existing Clean Air Act and return America’s parks to healthy air, the Bush administration and members of Congress are seeking to amend the Act and actually roll back clean air protections for America’s national parks. Known as “The Clear Skies Act,” the administration’s plan would replace many of the Clean Air Act’s special protections for park air quality with pollution reductions that are weaker and take longer to achieve.

With “Clear Skies” stalled in Congress, the administration is now trying to implement it through regulation. For instance, it is under court order to produce a plan by June 15, 2005, for older power plants and other major park polluters to finally install the “best available emissions controls,” as Congress mandated nearly 30 years ago. However, the administration is proposing to replace this clear mandate with the same weaker protections that are proposed in its Clear Skies legislation.

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