Three in Five Say They Won't Visit a National Park with Dirty Air

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   June 24, 2005
Contact:   Andrea Keller Helsel, NPCA, 202-454-3332


Three in Five Say They Won't Visit a National Park with Dirty Air

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A new poll conducted by Zogby International for the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) reveals that 45% of likely voters plan to visit national parks or historic sites this summer. But over three in five respondents (62%) would be unlikely to visit a national park clouded by haze or smog.

“This is bad news for the communities that depend on national park tourism,” said NPCA Clean Air Program Director Mark Wenzler, “and a wake-up call for Congress to steer clear of ill-advised proposals that would weaken or eliminate clean air protections for America’s national parks.”

Hundreds of outdated coal-fired power plants and other large factories spew pollution that fouls national parks -— marring scenic views and adversely affecting plants, wildlife, and the health of park visitors. Nearly 30 years ago Congress mandated that all of these outdated plants be made to clean up, but today, Congress is attempting to repeal that law. The so-called “Clear Skies” legislation now before Congress would eliminate a long-standing legal requirement that these outdated plants install modern pollution control technologies, and weaken other protections for park air quality. While federal policies are being weakened to benefit industrial polluters, several states including North Carolina have approved stronger policies to require significant air pollution reductions by in-state power plants. Other states including Maryland and Virginia are considering similar proposals.

In 2004, NPCA, Appalachian Voices, and Our Children’s Earth Foundation named Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina the most polluted park in the nation. 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 follow closely in the report Code Red: America's Five Most Polluted Parks.

The Zogby International poll revealed that two-thirds of likely voters (68%) have visited a national park in the last five years, and close to half overall (45%) plan on visiting a national park or historic site this summer.

According to Michigan State University’s 2001 conservative economic model, nearly 300 million national park visitors generate approximately $11 billion annually for state and local economies, supporting more than 250,000 jobs.

Zogby International conducted interviews of 1,000 likely voters chosen at random nationwide. All calls were made from Zogby International headquarters in Utica, N.Y., from 6/20/05 through 6/22/05. The margin of error is +/- 3.2 percentage points.

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