Press Release Nov 4, 2019

EPA Reinforces Weak Texas Haze Plan That Disregards the Health of Parks and Communities

The EPA’s continued efforts to disregard the Clean Air Act is detrimental to the health of Texans and our national parks.

Washington, DC – The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a supplemental Texas Regional Haze Plan proposal that aims to further justify a weak plan instead of reducing air pollution from the state’s coal plants and other facilities that degrades visibility in national parks and wilderness areas throughout the Southwest. Despite previous action by EPA to clear the air for parks and people across the region, the current administration is choosing to advance a plan that threatens our national parks and surrounding communities.

“The EPA’s continued efforts to disregard the Clean Air Act is detrimental to the health of Texans and our national parks,” said Stephanie Kodish, Senior Director and Counsel of National Parks Conservation Association’s Clean Air Program. “EPA could have created a win-win plan to reduce haze, improve public health and benefit local economies simply by requiring controls for pollution. Instead, the agency charged with protecting public health and our environment went to great lengths to further justify a weak proposal that will allow more pollution, at the expense of the health of our national parks like Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains, as well as the people who visit and live near them.”

Coal plants in Texas emit the most visibility-impairing, lung-damaging sulfur dioxide pollution in the nation. This contributes to hazy skies, missed work and health concerns including heart disease, breathing difficulties and premature death. Haze pollution also wreaks havoc on nearly 90 percent of our national parks, including Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in Texas, and other public lands across the region like Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma.

In response to public support for clean air in and around national parks, EPA proposed a plan in 2016 to clean up haze causing pollutants from more than a dozen Texas coal plants and other sources of pollution. But the following year under the Trump administration, EPA abandoned the proposal, and instead put forward a plan that allows these facilities to emit more unabated pollution.

“We have technology at our fingertips that would sharply reduce air pollution, but EPA and the state of Texas refuse to require it, putting our people and public lands in harm’s way. This proposal merely reinforces a bad plan and is a nonstarter. We will not accept EPA actions that fail to protect the air we breathe,” said Kodish.

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About National Parks Conservation Association: For 100 years, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 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 www.npca.org/100.