Press Release Feb 11, 2015

U.S. EPA Cedes Duty to Protect North Dakota Parks from Dangerous Air Pollution

Weaker State Plan Fails to Effectively Protect Theodore Roosevelt and Other National Parks from Power Plant Emissions

WASHINGTON — The U.S. EPA will voluntarily give up its authority to set tough pollution standards for North Dakota power plants, members of the state’s congressional delegation announced today, reaffirming the agency’s earlier decision to accept the state’s weaker plan to control haze that threatens national parks throughout the region.

Below is a statement by Stephanie Kodish, director of the National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) Clean Air Program:

“The EPA’s decision gives North Dakota carte blanche to do little about the damaging air pollution from coal-fired power plants in the state. The Milton R. Young and Leland Olds coal-fired power plants fill our national parks with dangerous haze that threatens the health of visitors, reduces visibility, and harms the landscape.

“With today’s decision, places like Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and Badlands and Wind Cave national parks in South Dakota, as well as residents across the region will not realize the possibility of cleaner air. The Regional Haze Rule is designed to help restore parks to their pristine condition, but EPA’s decision today flies in the face of this mandate.”

The Clean Air Act’s Regional Haze Rule requires steady reduction in haze-causing pollution to protect and ultimately restore the nation’s iconic national parks and wilderness areas. One specific requirement under the Clean Air Act compels some of the oldest, dirtiest park-polluting sources, like certain power plants, to install the best pollution controls.

In 2011, EPA proposed more stringent pollution controls that would have resulted in cleaner, healthier air. Unfortunately, EPA backed down and approved weaker standards that will allow significant and unnecessary air pollution.

The EPA agreed to reexamine its plan, which gave North Dakota plants permission to rely on less-effective technology to reduce their emissions, after NPCA and other conservation groups appealed the agency’s decision. The groups urged the agency to instead to rely on the best-available controls and implement more protective air pollution safeguards it had originally proposed.

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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 www.npca.org.