Tackling Air & Climate Pollution
Chris Liu, Seattle, Washington
A child of immigrants, Chris didn’t discover his love of the outdoors until college, when an experience at a friend’s cabin just outside of Rocky Mountain National Park inspired him to join our Texas Young Leaders Council. Now Chris lives in Seattle and volunteers with our Northwest team. In his time with NPCA, he’s assumed many leadership and volunteer roles. He’s lobbied in D.C., participated in park cleanup events, served on the Next Generation Advisory Council and become an outspoken messenger for our campaign for clean park air.
Chances are, one of the things you like best about visiting parks is that moment when you step on a trail, beach or boardwalk expecting to take a deep breath of that pure park air.
Unfortunately, air pollution is one of the most serious threats facing national parks. Not only does it threaten visitors’ health and the health of the plants and animals that call parks home, it clouds scenic vistas and alters our climate. Every one of the 48 national parks with the greatest Clean Air Act protections is plagued by significant air pollution.
In fact, air quality in our parks can be worse than in some major cities due to pollution from outdated coal plants and other sources. While most air pollution doesn’t originate in national parks, it can travel hundreds of miles from its source, affecting all parks and communities.
The Clean Air Act has steadily reduced pollution over the past five decades, but in just two years, the Trump administration’s policies have contributed to reversing this trend. Today, air pollution is on the rise, enforcement actions against polluters have plummeted by 85%, and the Environmental Protection Agency is weakening fundamental clean air and climate rules.
NPCA and our allies work every day toward the goal of clean air in our national parks and surrounding communities. Our work also includes guarding against new pollution sources near our parks and defending bedrock clean air and climate policies.
National parks are supposed to be protected at the highest level. They’re the canary in the coal mine. I worry about the health of these beautiful places so much and about their future and my own as climate change and air pollution take their toll.