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Virginia misses EPA deadline for clean air report

Shenandoah National Park
National Park Service
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Shenandoah National Park is known for its great views, but on some days they're obscured by air pollution.

Virginia is one of 34 states that did not submit a regional plan for cleaning up the air in their national parks. It’s a big problem according to Stephanie Kodish, an attorney with the National Parks Conservation Association.

“Visibility is one of the reasons that people go to our parks – to experience the grandeur of views.”

.But lately, she says, those views are spoiled by a combination of air pollutants from coal burning power plants and manufacturers, gas and oil extraction.

““When you’re talking about Shenandoah, the air quality there is not natural. It continues to be affected by various sources of pollution," Kodish says. "On average, our national parks and wilderness areas are missing 50 miles of views because of pollution.”

So her organization, the Sierra Club and three other environmental groups are suing the EPA – insisting they enforce the law and find out what states are doing about this problem.

“And also identifying the sources within their borders that are contributing pollution – like nitrogen oxide or sulfur dioxides. Those are the same emissions that also wreak havoc on public health," she explains. "The 2017 Regional Haze Amendment set a deadline of July 2021 for all states to submit their haze plans to EPA. That was already an extension, because they were previously due in 2018.”

Sixteen states did comply with the law, including our neighbors – Maryland and North Carolina