National Parks Group Discovers Serious Flaws in Air Pollution Policy, Highlights 300 Year Gap Between Congressional Mandate and Natural Air Quality in Iconic Parks

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NPCA petitions the President to act now to clear the air at national parks.


At the currant rate of clean up it will be ten generations before our national parks are returned to natural air quality.

Despite the directives of 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, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has found. 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.

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. In addition, NPCA has produced a short video on the impacts of pollution in parks and on the 300 year delay in cleaning up these beloved places.

“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.”

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.

For more information on NPCA’s findings and the impact of air pollution on national parks visit


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Jeff Billington
National Parks Conservation Association
(202) 419-3717
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