Top Ten Most-Endangered Public Lands

Great Smoky Mountains NP
By Andrea Keller
  |  Gorp.com
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Ten million people each year visit the gorgeous Smoky Mountains that straddle two states, and what do they find? Chronic air pollution. Nearby coal-fired power plants damage both the magnificent views and the complex and fragile web of plants and animals in the park. A controversial grandfather clause in the federal Clean Air Act exempts older coal-fired power plants from current environmental protection standards, allowing the plants to continue polluting at a rate up to 10 times greater than newer plants.

Recommended solution: Congress should remove the provision from the Clean Air Act and require all of the nation's power plants to meet current standards. A mandatory phase-out of older, coal-fired plants would alleviate an estimated 70 percent of emissions of sulfur dioxide—the toxin primarily responsible for the park's smog and visibility problems.


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