Press Release Jan 5, 2010

Time Running out to Help Clean up the Air in Upper Midwest National Parks

Public Comments Must Be Received by this Friday, January 8, 2010

The public can still help clean up the air in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and more than 20 national parks and wilderness areas in five upper Midwest states, but they must act quickly. Friday, January 8 is the deadline for comments to be received by the North Dakota Department of Health on a proposed air pollution plan for national parks and wilderness areas in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota, and Michigan.

The plan, known as the North Dakota Draft Regional Haze Plan, is mandated by federal clean air laws and will be presented at a public hearing in Bismarck on Thursday, January 7, 2010.

“Stronger measures are needed to ensure unobstructed views and clean air in the national parks of the Midwest,” said Stephanie Kodish, clean air counsel for the National Parks Conservation Association. “This comment period and hearing are a chance for the public to encourage North Dakota to step up and amend its draft plan to include stronger pollution controls and tighter emissions limits for coal-fired power plants contributing to haze in the region.”

The North Dakota Draft Regional Haze Plan—now in the public comment phase—was created under the EPA’s Regional Haze Rule, which requires that states, in coordination with federal agencies and the public, develop and implement air quality protection plans (known as State Implementation Plans or SIPs) to eliminate the pollution that causes visibility impairments in national parks and wilderness areas. These same pollutants can also cause or exacerbate health problems, including asthma, decreased lung function, and heart attacks. As drafted, the proposed plan fails to require adequate reductions for haze-causing pollutants, from eight large coal-fired power plants.

“This comment period is an opportunity to for all those in the public who cherish America’s treasured landscapes to make their voices heard on this important issue,” said Nicole Shalla, staff attorney at Plains Justice. “The Regional Haze Plan is going to have effects that go far beyond park boundaries and North Dakota.”

The public hearing on the plan is scheduled for January 7, 2010, at 9:00 a.m. CST at the Environmental Training Center, 2639 East Main Avenue in Bismarck, North Dakota.

“Protecting our national parks and wilderness areas is so important, not just for our own enjoyment, but for the future,” said Cory MacNulty, executive director of Voyageurs National Park Association. “We need to make sure the fresh air and clear blue skies of Voyageurs National Park are preserved for generations to come.”

The National Parks Conservation Association, Dakota Resource Council, Friends of the Boundary Waters Wilderness, Plains Justice, South Dakota Chapter of the Sierra Club, and Voyageurs National Park Association have written a comments letter asking that the state lower the amount of haze-causing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate matter coal-fired power plants would be allowed to emit in order to comply with federal regulations.

The draft plan can be found at:

Written comments should be sent to:

Terry O'Clair
Director, Division of Air Quality
North Dakota Department of Health
918 East Divide Avenue
Bismarck, ND 58501
Please note: when submitting by email, it is requested that a hardcopy also be forwarded to the postal address above.


About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit