National Parks Group Hails Environmental Protection Agency Decision to Require Long-Awaited Controls for Mining Plants Known to Pollute the Air at Iconic National Parks

 
PRESS RELEASE
  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date:   August 16, 2012
Contact:   Christine Goepfert, Upper Midwest Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, 612-270-8564, cgoepfert@npca.org
Jeff Billington, Senior Media Relations Manager, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-419-3717, jbillington@npca.org


National Parks Group Hails Environmental Protection Agency Decision to Require Long-Awaited Controls for Mining Plants Known to Pollute the Air at Iconic National Parks

Statement by Christine Goepfert, Upper Midwest Program Manager, National Parks Conservation Association

“National parks like Voyageurs and Isle Royale, as well as the Boundary Waters Wilderness, were set aside to preserve places of immense and unique beauty, while creating a publically-owned place for families from across Minnesota, as well as the nation as a whole, to enjoy healthy outdoor activities. But for decades these sites have been impaired by the dirty pollutants being pumped into the air by taconite plants in northern Minnesota that have escaped pollution control requirements for years. That is why the decision by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to require stronger pollution controls on these plants is a victory for both the health of these special places and for the health and well-being of the hundreds of thousands of people who visit them each year.

“The benefits of the EPA’s requirements will be tremendous for the local environment, the natural beauty of the area, the health of residents and visitors, and the strength of the state’s economy. That is because in addition to impairing visibility, haze pollutants contribute to heart attacks, asthma attacks, and ER visits for asthma, chronic bronchitis and respiratory illness. The EPA has found that by 2015, implementing the regional haze requirements will provide substantial health benefits of $8.4 to $9.8 billion annually, preventing tens of thousands of premature deaths, heart attacks, hospital admissions, and lost school and work days. Additionally, both Voyageurs and the Boundary Waters are significant assets to the region’s economy, contributing over $110 million to northeastern Minnesota’s tourism and recreation industry. And it should come as no surprise that the cleaner and clearer the air is at a national park, the more attractive it will be to visitors. 

The EPA’s decision followed the State of Minnesota shirking its responsibility to put in place appropriate and legally acceptable limits on the taconite plants despite calls to do so based on evidence collected by the State demonstrating these plants are a significant source of air pollution. The upgrades that the EPA is requiring of these plants are simply common sense when it comes to protecting the health and character of beloved places like Voyageurs and Isle Royale and safe guarding the air quality there for visitors to them. These same pollution controls have already been proven to be viable at other similar facilities and the time has come to bring northern Minnesota’s plants into the 21st century.”


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