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Air Pollution Haze in Our National Parks

Case Number # 1790

The 1977 Clean Air Act set a national goal of cleaning up dirty air in major national parks and wilderness areas. Decades later, only a small handful of states have submitted legally required plans to comply. The result: power plant and factory emissions continue to obscure views of beloved landmarks in national parks across the country including Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Big Bend, Acadia, Sequoia, and Yosemite.

On October 21, 2008, Earthjustice filed suit on behalf of Environmental Defense Fund and National Parks Conservation Association over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's failure to enforce deadlines for the states to adopt these clean air plans. The Clean Air Act required states to submit enforceable plans to EPA by last December to clean up hazy skies in parks and wilderness areas. As of June 2008, only six had submitted plans, according to EPA sources. The Earthjustice letter gave notice of intent to sue EPA unless the agency enforces the deadline against delinquent states within 60 days.

According to the National Park Service, human-caused air pollution reduces visibility in most national parks  throughout the country. Average visual range -- the farthest a person can see on a given day -- in most of the western United States is now about one-half to two-thirds of what it would be without man-made air pollution (about 140 miles). In most of the east, the average visual range is about one-fifth of what it would be under natural conditions (about 90 miles).

Earthjustice is suing EPA on behalf of conservation groups.


Press Releases

Monday, January 13, 2014
EPA criticized for ignoring pollution by oil and gas industry & two large coal plants
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Decision upholds deadlines for action to reduce pollution
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Decision upholds compliance deadline for EPA’s regional haze requirements
Monday, March 4, 2013
State and utilities attempt to weaken regional haze plan and undermine air pollution protections
Friday, February 15, 2013
Applaud retirement of two units while awaiting emissions reductions details
Tuesday, September 11, 2012
Dirty air threatens public health, air quality in national parks and wilderness areas
Monday, July 23, 2012
Aging coal plants face clean-up
Friday, July 13, 2012
New report objects to cleaning up dirty coal-fired power plants decades after Congressional mandate
Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Required pollution control upgrades are modern standard in wide use by coal plants elsewhere around the country
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Urge reinstatement of earlier, stronger protections