The long-term health of national parks and wilderness areas across the eastern U.S. is threatened by a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that would exempt hundreds of highly polluting, antiquated coal-fired power plants from longstanding air pollution clean-up requirements.
Thirty five years ago -- in the 1977 Clean Air Act -- Congress mandated that these outdated coal plants install the "Best Available Retrofit Technology" (BART) to protect places like Great Smoky Mountains, Voyageurs, Everglades, and Acadia national parks from polluted haze. EPA ignored this mandate for decades, until finally forced by public pressure and litigation to enforce the law.
Now, on the eve of these dirty coal plants finally being forced to clean up their act, EPA wants to give many of them a reprieve from BART requirements, proposing that a regional emissions "trading" program, that in some cases will mean little or no actual cleanup, should be allowed to replace concrete, plant specific pollution reductions.
I urge you to retain the full, existing protections for restoring clean air to national parks and wilderness areas in the eastern U.S. As someone who cares deeply about our national parks, I ask you to abandon the proposal to substitute the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR) trading program for these longstanding laws.. Many parks and wild lands -- especially in the east -- would suffer as a result.
Specifically, I support the continued use of the Regional Haze Rule to clean up the oldest and dirtiest sources of pollution and haze that impact our nation's treasured national parks and wilderness areas.
I oppose EPA's current proposal to exempt park polluting coal plants in the eastern states from the best, widely available pollution controls. EPA's proposal allows pollution trading and would not provide the same level of assurances and protections for our treasured public lands. Both CSAPR and the Regional Haze Rule are necessary; CSAPR should not take the place of the Regional Haze Rule.
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