The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Kathleen O'Neil, NPCA Media Relations 202.419.3717

Groups Ask EPA to Enforce Regional Haze Rules and Protect National Parks

Deadline for states to begin air pollution reductions approaches, but few are ready


The National Parks Conservation Association, Sierra Club, San
Juan Citizens Alliance, and 15 other conservation groups have asked the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to ensure national parks and the
public's health are protected from air pollution by requiring that
states take significant steps to fulfill the Clean Air Act.

"Millions of visitors to national parks and wilderness areas each
year see views obscured by haze, and breathe air tainted by preventable
pollution - even icons like the Grand Canyon are affected," said
Stephanie Kodish, clean air counsel for the National Parks Conservation
Association (NPCA). "To improve these conditions, EPA must require
significant reductions in haze-causing pollution."

EPA faces a deadline of January 15, 2011 to finalize plans to reduce
air pollution that will help restore natural views in the country's most
pristine public lands. However, NPCA has determined that most states
and EPA are not on track to meet this deadline.

The conservation groups have asked the agency to ensure that states
require large pollution sources to reduce their air pollution to fully
restore visibility to 156 national parks and wilderness areas that
Congress in 1977 designated as outstanding national treasures deserving
pristine air quality. To meet the national goal of restoring visibility
to these national treasures, states must now take steps to eliminate
man-made haze. However, some states have submitted haze-reduction plans
that would miss the goal by more than 100 years: Texas has submitted a
plan that would not eliminate man-made haze over Big Bend National Park
until 2177, and the state of Washington's would not fully protect
Olympic National Park for 323 years.

"Our region's two biggest coal-fired power plants, the Four Corners
Power Plant and the Navajo Generating Station, contribute the most haze
over the greatest number of parks and wilderness areas of any other
pollution source in the country," said Mike Eisenfeld, New Mexico energy
coordinator for San Juan Citizens Alliance. "Regional haze from
industrial sources continues to increase in the Four Corners region,
where it also harms the public's health."

The Clean Air Act requires states to submit State Implementation
Plans (SIPs) that show how they will reduce regional haze-causing
pollutants. In January 2009, EPA found that 37 states had not met the
deadline to do so; it set the new deadline of January 2011 for the
states to submit their plans. The agency will establish a Federal
Implementation Plan (FIP) for states or areas that do not have an
approved SIP.

NPCA and its allies are asking EPA to make clear that states must
ensure that state and federal plans result in the cleanest air

"EPA has the tremendously important task of ensuring that plans are
in place to restore natural visibility to our most spectacular wild
places," said Holly Bressett, project attorney for Sierra Club. "It has
an unparalleled opportunity to reduce haze-causing emissions from some
of the nation's oldest and most-polluting facilities, which impact areas
ranging from Washington's verdant Olympic Peninsula to the red rocks in
southern Utah's Arches National Park."

The following organizations signed onto the letter, which was
delivered today: Plains Justice, Western Resource Advocates, Sierra
Club, Citizens for Dixie's Future, Dakota Resource Council, GreenLaw,
the Kentucky Environmental Foundation, the Minnesota Center for
Environmental Advocacy, the Powder River Basin Resource Council, Our
Children's Earth Foundation, the Northwest Environmental Defense Center,
National Parks Conservation Association, San Juan Citizens Alliance,
the Southern Environmental Law Center, Voyageurs National Park
Association, WildEarth Guardians, the Wasatch Clean Air Coalition, and
the Wyoming Outdoor Council.

A copy of the letter to EPA is available
online at

NPCA is a non-profit, private organization dedicated to protecting, preserving, and enhancing the U.S. National Park System.