Utah Parks Deserve Clean Air Too

March 21, 2017

On behalf of the undersigned organizations and our millions of members and supporters nationwide, we urge you to oppose the Congressional Review Act resolutions S.J. Res. 38 and H.J. Res. 87 that would repeal the Utah Regional Haze Rule aimed at cleaning up national park air for some of our nation’s most iconic parks.

This resolution is the latest attempt by the Utah delegation to take aim at public lands– this time to eliminate clean, clear air for parks. The UT Haze Rule requires 10,000 tons of nitrogen oxides to be reduced annually, reflecting a 76 percent reduction from PacifiCorp’s Hunter and Huntington coal-fired power plants in Utah. These plants are the state’s oldest and dirtiest sources of pollution that harm the air quality at eight Southwestern national parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Arches and Canyonlands in Utah, Grand Canyon in Arizona and Mesa Verde and Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado. Pollution controls required under this rule are time-tested and cost-effective and already installed or have planned installation at over 327 coal units across the country.

The Utah Regional Haze Rule was finalized in June 2016 after nine years of planning and stakeholder input. The rule was promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) only after six failed attempts by the state of Utah to comply with the Clean Air Act provision requiring the oldest and dirtiest park polluting sources to limit their harm to national parks (42 USC 7491 (b)(2)(A)). With each proposal put forward by Utah, EPA gave the state another opportunity to amend its shortcomings; time and time again the state chose to repackage its plan without making any substantive improvements. In the end, the EPA put forward two proposals for public comment—the plan that cut 10,000 tons of nitrogen oxide pollution and the state’s plan that required no new pollution reductions.

The final Utah Regional Haze Rule was the product of robust interagency consultation (including the National Park Service), transparent and vigorous public involvement and significant technical and legal analysis with reasoned decision making by EPA. This rule was anything but rushed, provided ample opportunity for state engagement and compliance, and is a reflection of public input, agency expertise, and compliance with the law—all in order to ensure clear air for our nation’s most iconic national parks.

Undermining clean air through S.J. Res. 38/H.J. Res. 87 for our national parks is simply unacceptable. Our national parks, which saw record-breaking numbers at over 330 million visitors in 2016, define who we are as a nation and reflect a longstanding bipartisan ethic of conservation. In Utah, Colorado, and Arizona alone, visitors generate approximately $35.8 billion each year in consumer spending for the outdoor recreation industry. These visitors deserve clean air and clear scenic views as they support our communities and economy, and celebrate our national treasures.

We urge you to oppose resolutions to repeal the Utah Regional Haze Rule (S.J. Res. 38/H.J. Res. 87). Thank you for your consideration.

The Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks
National Parks Conservation Association
Center for Biological Diversity
Powder River Basin Resource Council
Conservatives for Responsible Stewardship
Sierra Club
Grand Canyon Trust
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment
The Wilderness Society
Western Spirit Cycling
Rachel Carson Council
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance
Great Old Broads for Wilderness
San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council
Wilderness Workshop
Rocky Mountain Wild
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Western Resource Advocates
Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition
Clean Air Task Force

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This page last modified: March 21, 2017 @ 8:38 pm