NPCA’s ongoing campaign to reverse the chronic air pollution damaging Great Smoky Mountains National Park achieved a historic milestone in early 2011 with the signing of a settlement agreement that resolves litigation filed by NPCA and others against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) more than ten years ago. The resulting Clean Air Agreement—involving TVA, the Environmental Protection Agency, four states, and three advocacy groups—creates an enforceable plan for the largest retirement of dirty coal-fired facilities in U.S. history. Over the next eight years, TVA will permanently retire 18 of its 59 coal-fired units (boilers) and ensure that 36 others are controlled to modern standards, resulting in a system-wide reduction of 67 percent in sulfur dioxide and 69 percent in nitrogen oxides over that time period. These reductions will make measurable improvements in the acid deposition, visibility impairment, and ground-level ozone problems that have plagued the park for decades.
The fight to clean up the older, dirty coal-fired plants at TVA and elsewhere has been a central focus of NPCA’s Southeast Regional Office since its founding in 1992. The last ten years of litigation have been as much a battle of wills as of facts. Although there is still a long way to go to bring an end to air pollution’s impact on the health of the park and of park visitors, the next eight years now hold the promise of significant reductions in pollution and improving air conditions. A letter received from TVA President Tom Kilgore after he signed the agreements reflects the quality of the plan and a refreshing new attitude at the agency: “The benefits of the agreements to the ratepayers and citizens of the Tennessee Valley are multiple…These agreements were the right thing to do and this was the right time to do this.”
- Learn more about NPCA's work protecting clean air in and around national parks.
- Learn more about NPCA's work in the Southeast region.