Top Ten Most-Endangered Public Lands

Great Smoky Mountains NP
By Andrea Keller

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.


Sign up to Away's Travel Insider

Preview newsletter »