Interior Appropriations Bill Amendment Would Harm EPA’s Ability to Reduce Air Pollution at National Park Sites Across the West

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   July 27, 2011
Contact:   Mark Wenzler, Vice President, Climate and Air Quality Programs, National Parks Conservation Association, Phone: 202- 454-3335 office; 202- 255-9013 cell


Interior Appropriations Bill Amendment Would Harm EPA’s Ability to Reduce Air Pollution at National Park Sites Across the West

WASHINGTON, DC — The long awaited promise of cleaner air in America’s national parks could get delayed even further and perhaps indefinitely if an amendment proposed for the House of Representatives’ Interior Appropriations bill is passed as part of the final legislation. Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND) has submitted his amendment to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from enforcing its duties as dictated by the Clean Air Act to protect some of America’s most treasured national parks and wilderness areas from air pollution. The amendment would allow unnecessary pollution from antiquated coal-fired power plants to continue to hamper national park sites across the country with diminished views and unhealthy air.

“Treasured parks like Grand Canyon National Park, Olympic National Park, and  Theodore Roosevelt National Park will see the protections promised to them by Congress in the 1977 Clean Air Act watered down in an effort to let coal-fired power plants continue spewing high levels of unhealthy and unsightly pollution,” said Mark Wenzler, NPCA Vice President for Climate and Air Quality Programs. “Congressman Berg’s legislative amendment would prevent the EPA from developing haze cleanup plans for states like Montana and New Mexico, which specifically asked for EPA’s help in doing so, and it would allow inadequate haze cleanup plans like the one proposed by North Dakota to become law. This amendment will result in more polluted air in national parks for decades to come.”

The Clean Air Act requires outdated, highly-polluting factories and power plants responsible for degrading park air quality to install “Best Available Retrofit Technology” (BART) emissions controls. By adding these proven, widely-used pollution controls the pollution emitted by these plants can be cut by up to 99 percent. But a handful of states like North Dakota want to let power plants use less effective technology that cuts pollution by only 25 percent or less. EPA is now poised to finalize state plans for installing modern pollution controls on park-polluting antiquated coal plants, but if the Berg amendment is allowed to pass many of these plans will be stalled or derailed and our national parks will suffer because of it.

 
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