Press Release Mar 20, 2018

Court Allows Weak Park Air Protection Rule to Stand

Decision protects rule exempting cleanup of outdated power plants.

WASHINGTON – The D.C. Circuit Court today rejected National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) challenge to a federal rule that exempted eastern states from reducing air pollution impacting national parks across the country.

The court rejected NPCA’s challenge to the Better-than-BART (Best Available Retrofit Technology) rule. The rule replaces source-specific BART emission limits for outdated power plants impacting parks and wilderness areas with the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), an air pollutant trading program covering 28 states in the eastern half of the country.

While the Regional Haze Rule explicitly authorizes EPA to replace BART with an “alternative” program, that alternative program must achieve better results. NPCA’s analysis shows that while CSAPR has resulted in a net decrease in nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide pollution, many eastern national parks like Shenandoah and Voyagers would not be adequately protected by CSAPR alone. NPCA and its co-plaintiff, Sierra Club, were represented by Earthjustice in the case.

Statement by Stephanie Kodish, director of National Parks Conservation Association’s Clean Air Program:

“Today’s decision is a disappointing setback for the health of national parks across the East. The court’s decision will allow outdated power plants across the East to continue spewing dangerous pollution into the airsheds of iconic national parks like Shenandoah and Voyagers, jeopardizing the health of the parks’ ecosystems and visitors.

“The Clean Air Act requires many of our national parks and wilderness areas to have the cleanest air possible; maintaining this rule will only push that goal farther out of reach. We must reduce power plant pollution so it does not degrade the air quality in national parks. We should not allow loopholes that escape the benefits of cleaner air. We’ll continue to pursue all legal avenues to ensure that states are doing everything within their power to clean up their power plants and protect our national parks.”


About National Parks Conservation Association Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit

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