EPA plans to loosen air-quality rules near national parks
Photo: Wolfgang Staudt
Call us crazy, but rewriting the Clean Air Act to ease the way for new coal plants near national parks seems to fly in the face of that whole “clean air” thing. But sure enough, the U.S. EPA plans to make a change allowing the government to calculate the average annual emissions of power plants near parks and wilderness areas, instead of tracking (and potentially punishing) the spikes in pollution spewed during peak energy times. “It’s like if you’re pulled over by a cop for going 75 miles per hour in a 55 miles-per-hour zone, and you say, ‘If you look at how I’ve driven all year, I’ve averaged 55 miles per hour,’” explains Mark Wenzler of the National Parks Conservation Association. The NPCA estimates that the rule change will ease construction of 28 new coal plants within 186 miles of 10 national parks. And those parks are hazy enough as it is, laments one National Park Service engineer: “It would really be a setback in trying to make progress.”
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