National Parks Group Says Approval of Massive Power Plant Could Threaten Air Quality in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   October 31, 2007
Contact:   Bart Melton, Program Analyst, National Parks Conservation Association, 865.329.2424, ext.24


National Parks Group Says Approval of Massive Power Plant Could Threaten Air Quality in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Knoxville, Tenn.—The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today said the visibility and air quality in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is threatened by a proposed 800-megawatt addition to the Cliffside coal-fired power plant in Rutherford County, North Carolina.

“Great Smoky Mountains is one of our nations most visited national parks, offering a variety of recreational opportunities, irreplaceable memories for visitors, and economic benefits,” said National Parks Conservation Association Program Analyst Bart Melton. “We must act now to prevent this proposed coal-fired power plan from moving forward—it could be devastating to the health of our national treasure.”

The national parks group says that Duke Energy is proposing to build a new 800-megawatt coal-fired power plant at its Cliffside coal power plant. The proposed addition lacks proper controls and would open a spigot of new pollutants that would negatively impact the park. Great Smoky Mountains National Park already contains some of the highest levels of mercury contamination than any other national parks in the country.

“Coal-fired power plants throughout the country have long pummeled our national parks with poisonous mercury, smog, and acid rain,” said Melton. “Building a new coal-fired power plant without proper emissions control will cause unnatural haze and block the scenic mountain views that many visitors enjoy.”

The addition of the new coal-fired power plant would also augment the obvious effects of global warming. In the Smokies there could be an increase in “code red” air quality days, threatening the health of visitors and staff. Warmer temperatures could warm streams and diminish native trout populations. An unstable climate would mean more droughts, stronger floods, and more intense storms seriously damaging the already imperiled park.

“If we continue to allow new coal-fired power plants to be built without proper emissions controls there is little doubt that temperatures will continue to rise,” said Melton. “By simply making smart energy choices we can stave off the worst effects of global warming and save our national parks for future generations.” 

The public can submit comments on this threatening proposal to the North Carolina Department of Environment and Conservation before the end of today.

Since 1919, the nonpartisan, nonprofit NPCA has been the leading voice of the American people in protecting and enhancing our National Park System. NPCA, its 330,000 members, and partners work together to protect the park system and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for generations to come.
                                                                 
 

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