U.S. national parks — once known for their pristine beauty — are now filled with haze and polluted air. Besides the aesthetic impact, this issue affects the U.S.'s economy and the health of its citizens, including contributing to lung and heart disease. And it will be almost 300 years until these parks have clean air.
Congress passed an amendment to the Clean Air Act in 1977 that required states to restore the air quality of their parks, including updating coal-firing power plants with cleaner technology. When the EPA finally adopted these regulations in 1999, they gave states 65 years to solve the haze problem, but at the current rate, it will take until the year 2276 to clean every park.
The air quality of national parks has long been an ignored issue, with government efforts over the last 10 years doing even more harm to these ecosystems. It’s time for these national treasures to be a priority—stand with the National Parks Conservation Association and tell President Obama and EPA Administrator Gina McCarty to fight for our national parks.
Photo: Reduced visibility in the Grand Canyon due to air pollution (Credit: Ed Reschke)
To: Gina McCarthy, EPA Administrator, President Barack Obama
You need to make clean air a priority for our national parks. The pollution in our parks costs the U.S. thousands of premature deaths and billions of dollars.
If the current rate of pollution continues, it will take almost 300 years to restore the air quality of these parks — more than 200 years overdue according to the Clean Air Act. While there have been strong steps toward pollution reduction, we still need improvements and national attention to save the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and many other beloved parks.
You need to cut sources of haze, including modernizing bigger, older industrial power plants to meet Clean Air Act requirements.
We can’t wait 300 or more years for clean air. I support the National Parks Conservation Association in asking you to take a stand for our economy, our health, and our parks.
[Your name here]