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Protecting The Southwest’s Iconic Parks From Dirty Air

Haze in the Grand Canyon.

Haze in the Grand Canyon.

Photo courtesy of Adrian Block

What's at Stake

The EPA gave a free pass to eight of the oldest and dirtiest coal plants in the American west, which emit sulfur dioxide that dirties our air and can have harmful health effects. The views in iconic parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are suffering as a result.

Earthjustice is suing the EPA over its decision to let these eight coal plants to escape industry-standard technology upgrades to reduce their sulfur dioxide pollution.


Haze is a major problem in national parks and wilderness areas, created in part by coal plants and other heavy industries that emit air pollution that obscures scenic views from the Grand Canyon to Yellowstone and beyond.

Congress directed EPA to clean up industrial sources of haze pollution in our nation’s parks and wilderness areas. But instead of requiring the largest sources in Utah, New Mexico and Wyoming to reduce their emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2)—a pollutant that causes haze—EPA effectively exempted the eight dirty coal plants from legal requirements to upgrade their pollution controls. This violation of the Clean Air Act jeopardizes more than scenic vistas. Sulfur dioxide contributes to heart attacks, asthma attacks and emergency room visits for asthma, chronic bronchitis and respiratory illness.

Earthjustice is representing a coalition of groups in a lawsuit that challenges EPA’s gaping loophole for these especially dirty coal plants.

Case Updates

January 30, 2013 | In the News: Salt Lake Tribune

Environmental groups challenge EPA haze plans

Earthjustice filed suit in the Denver federal appeals court challenging the EPA’s recent approval of a plan that is supposed to reduce haze caused by sulfur-dioxide pollution. Attorneys argue that the plan won’t clean up air pollution from coal fired power plants.