State's draft plan fails to reduce pollution, falling short of federal obligations to improve air quality.
BISMARCK, ND - North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (NDDEQ) will be holding an in-person public hearing on May 31 to receive comments in response to the state’s plan to reduce pollution that degrades visibility and health at national parks and wilderness areas in North Dakota and neighboring states. The regional haze plan proposed by the state of North Dakota fails to reduce pollution and falls short on the state’s obligation to improve air quality for our parks and communities.
According to the National Park Service (NPS), air quality has deteriorated in Theodore Roosevelt National Park since 2016. Additionally, clear skies and public health in Lostwood Wilderness Area, Badlands, Voyageurs, Wind Cave and Isle Royale National Parks are being negatively affected by pollution from coal plants, industrial facilities and oil and gas operations. The decrease in air quality in these and other areas of the state highlight the urgent need for pollution cuts to be integrated into the state’s plan.
Environmental advocates and locals assert that despite the many opportunities for cost-effective controls, NDDEQ’s proposal improperly concludes that no new reductions in pollution are warranted on some of the nation’s biggest and worst park-polluting coal and oil plants, such as Coyote Coal Station and Antelope Valley Station. If the current plan is finalized, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) estimates that more than 72,000 tons of SO2 and NOx will continue to be released into the air from these and other facilities over the next decade, impacting the air and health in communities such as the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation in the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.
According to NPCA’s analysis of polluting sources, the electricity sector emits 87% of the state’s haze pollution in North Dakota and in NDDEQ’s current haze plan, they have not required pollution controls from the following dirty coal power plants:
- Coyote Station
- Antelope Valley Station
- Coal Creek Station
- Milton R Young Station
- Leland Olds Station
- R M Heskett Station
NDDEQ did not require any emission-reducing measures from the following major oil and gas facilities either:
- Great Plains Synfuels Plant
- Tioga Gas Plant
- Little Knife Gas Plant
- Northern Border Pipeline Compressor Station
“North Dakota has some of the most egregious haze polluters in the nation, harming air quality in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and other treasured places in the Badlands,” said Elizabeth Loos, Executive Director of the Badlands Conservation Alliance. “Sadly, the state continues to fail to require emission controls to deliver clean air for parks and people who live near them. This new plan yet again lets North Dakota’s dirtiest facilities dump haze pollution into our skies and lungs unchecked, showing that North Dakota still values polluters over people and parks.”
“From where I live, I can see the billowing exhausts from Antelope Valley and Coyote coal stations and Great Plains SynFuels gas plant polluting my air,” said Prairie Rose Seminole, NPCA Indigenous Fellow and MHA Nation citizen. “They are North Dakota’s and some of our nation’s biggest national park polluting facilities. It is unconscionable that our state is advancing a haze plan that does nothing to cut pollution from these facilities and other industries despite clear evidence that they are harmful to me and my family, our livestock and my native lands. The peoples of the MHA nation and my family have been stewards of these river valleys and bottom lands for time immemorial and can recall a time of pure waters, clean air and bountiful lands that may become to only exist in our stories.”
“Millions of people visit North Dakota’s national parks and wilderness areas each year to see some of the most awe-inspiring views in the world from the Lostwood Wilderness Area to Theodore Roosevelt National Park,” said Holly Sandbo, Northern Rockies Outreach and Engagement Manager National Parks Conservation Association. “Sadly, most visitors miss out on miles of scenic views and clear night skies. Our people and communities suffer from breathing the dirty air that North Dakota’s big polluters emit and yet the state has chosen these industries’ interests over public health and public lands by submitting a flawed regional haze plan that does nothing to cut pollution. It’s time to get this right: North Dakota must clean up the nation’s top park-polluting coal and oil plants that cause harm both within the state and the region.”
About the 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 nearly 1.6 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.
About the Badlands Conservation Alliance Badlands Conservation Alliance is dedicated to the restoration and preservation of the badlands and rolling prairie ecosystem comprising western North Dakota’s public lands, both state and federal. We provide an independent voice for conservation-minded North Dakotans and others who are appreciative of this unique Great Plains landscape. It is also our mission to ensure that the public lands management agencies adhere to the principles of the laws that guide them and provide for wise stewardship of the natural landscapes with which the citizens of the United States have entrusted them – for this and future generations. Learn more at www.badlandsconservationalliance.org.
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