23
Mrz
2004

BUSH ADMINISTRATION FAVORING AIR POLLUTERS OVER NATIONAL PARKS

The Bush Administration is systematically disregarding the findings of National Park Service (NPS) scientists, imperiling the air quality of the nation's national parks. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) has documented a pattern of favoritism for energy interests by Bush Administration appointees, circumventing 1977 Clean Air Act Amendments meant to protect the national parks.

PEER reports three examples of Bush Administration appointees overturning NPS staff recommendations meant to preserve clean air in parks and wilderness areas:

-In December 2002, NPS scientists advised the State of Montana that emissions from a proposed coal-burning plant to be built in Roundup, 112 miles from Yellowstone National Park, would adversely affect the park's air quality and visibility. In January 2003, Assistant Secretary of the Interior Craig Manson withdrew the scientists' findings from the state, in effect allowing the plant to go forward. Manson and his deputy, Paul Hoffman, announced that the NPS scientists had erred in their findings. Neither Manson nor Hoffman have any scientific training.

-In February 2003, NPS scientists reported to the State of Kentucky that the proposed Thoroughbred coal-fired generating station would harm Mammoth Cave National Park, 50 miles away. Manson and Hoffman overruled the scientists' findings, and withdrew this determination last fall.

-Last month EPA announced it would allow the state of North Dakota to establish a different baseline for the air quality around Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The new, lower baseline will mean that emissions from two proposed coal-fired power plants are permissible under the Clean Air Act amendments. NPS scientists have long since determined that the park's air quality was already at the Clean Air Act's threshold for allowable pollution.

Further jeopardizing air quality protections for America's national parks, under the administration's proposed "Clear Skies" initiative, NPS scientists would be allowed to review new facilities only if they are within 35 miles of a park. Under this rule, neither the Montana nor Kentucky plant proposals would have been evaluated for possible harm to park air quality.[1]

"Roosevelt National Park is the thing that links these three seemingly isolated incidents," Chas Offutt of PEER told BushGreenwatch. "Bush Administration appointees to the National Park Service are consistently favoring politics over the recommendations of career employees. And employees now have a greater fear of retaliation from these appointees."

SOURCES: [1] PEER Press Release, Mar. 16, 2004.

http://www.bushgreenwatch.org/mt_archives/000079.php
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