Unless things change, it will take centuries for many national parks to have truly clean air, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, which wants the Obama administration to close loopholes that stand in the way of improving air quality.
The park advocacy group maintains that despite the 1977 Clean Air Act and the 1999 Regional Haze Rule, "many national parks today suffer serious air pollution and at the current rate of progress it will be centuries before their natural air quality is restored."
"Included in a sample of ten national parks that NPCA highlighted are the nation’s first national park, Yellowstone, which will not achieve natural air quality until 2163, and the Grand Canyon, which is prized for its stunning vistas above all else and will not see pristine air quality until 2127," the group said in a release.
With hopes of rectifying the problem, NPCA has launched a petition calling on President Obama to speed the rate of improvement of national park air quality by closing regulatory loopholes and ensuring that all parks have natural air quality by 2064, the deadline provided in the 1999 Regional Haze Rule.
“At the current rate of clean up it will be ten generations before our national parks are returned to natural air quality,” said NPCA Clean Air Program Director & Counsel Stephanie Kodish. “With pollution control technology and congressional approval already in place to meet the 2064 deadline, which is half a century away, it should not take longer than this nation has existed to clean the air at these national treasures.”
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NPCA found the expected clean-up date for ten national parks in data and regulatory documents from the Environmental Protection Agency, the federal agency charged with implementing the Regional Haze Rule.
The ten national parks NPCA evaluated and the year natural air quality is expected to be achieved based on current rates:
* North Cascades National Park (Washington) – 2276
* Badlands National Park (South Dakota) – 2265
* Voyagers National Park (Minnesota) – 2177
* Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming/Montana/Idaho) – 2163
* Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota) – 2158
* Big Bend National Park (Texas) – 2155
* Grand Canyon National Park (Arizona) – 2127
* Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park (Colorado) – 2119
* Joshua Tree National Park (California) – 2106
* Sequoia National Park (California) – 2096
In 2016 the National Park Service will celebrate its 100th anniversary. NPCA is calling on the Obama Administration to give national parks the gift of clean air by taking steps to ensure that natural air quality is restored to national parks by no later than the 2064 regulatory deadline.
You can find more information on NPCA’s findings and the impact of air pollution on national parks at this website.