Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Rights and Reason: EPA agrees to clean up scenic skies

Jane Kay, Environment Writer at the San Francisco Chronicle reports on a victory for "Banana* Environmentalists":

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency signed a court settlement Tuesday intended to clear the skies and improve the views in national parks and wilderness areas.

The settlement with Environmental Defense, a national environmental group, places the EPA on a court-ordered schedule to curb by April 2005 haze-forming pollutants that threaten such national parks as Yosemite, Sequoia, Glacier, Big Bend, Great Smoky Mountains, Shenandoah, Big Bend and Acadia. The deal applies to 156 parks and wilderness areas in all.

Hundreds of industrial plants nationwide could be affected by the settlement, including cement plants, copper smelters and coal-fired power plants in the West that supply energy to California.

The settlement must go through a public comment process and requires approval by a Washington, D.C., court before it takes effect.

"This settlement is a big step toward cleaning up the air in our national parks and wilderness areas," said David Baron, attorney for Earthjustice, a nonprofit legal organization that represents Environmental Defense.

"The law sets a national goal of clearing the skies in these special places, for the enjoyment and inspiration of present and future generations," Baron said.

Under 1977 amendments to the Clean Air Act, industrial plants are prohibited from creating "regional haze" that spoils scenic vistas in parks and wilderness areas. The National Park Service has blamed fine particles created by emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides that blow hundreds of miles and impair visibility in many of its wild parks.
So the enjoyment and inspiration of a pretty view comes before the enjoyment and inspiration made possibe by cement plants, copper smelters and coal-fired power plants. Brilliant.

*BANANA--Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything.

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