Utah, Interior OK plan to clear air in parks
WASHINGTON -The Interior Department and Utah agreed Wednesday to a plan aimed at helping to reduce haze in Bryce Canyon, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef and Zion national parks.
The agreement, two years in the making, helps implement the National Parks Service's plan to wipe out haze in national parks across the country, restoring "natural visibility" by 2018.
"It says we'll play nicely with one another," said Cheryl Heying, planning branch manager at the Utah Division of Air Quality. "Restoring visibility to its natural condition in the national parks is something we're committed to in the state of Utah."
The memorandum sets up a process for the Park Service to notify the state to address major pollution sources, such as power plants, if progress is not being made toward clearing the air.
At that point, the state would look at ways to address the situation, Heying said. The Clean Air Act could potentially require the polluters to upgrade their facility with cleaner technology to reduce emissions.
"Air quality is a regional issue and is best solved when regions work together with state and federal land managers to reduce emissions," said Craig Mansion, the assistant secretary in charge of parks at the Interior Department. "This is an important step in our efforts to assure clean air and scenic views in areas the Department of the Interior manages and the public enjoys."
- Robert Gehrke