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New Consent Decree Aims to Reduce Haze at National Parks

A new agreement between the federal government and environmental groups will put limits on some power plants that blow pollution into Kentucky. The move is designed to reduce haze and air pollution at many of the country’s oldest national parks, including Mammoth Cave.Power plants and factories in nearby Illinois, Indiana and Ohio are all affected by the consent decree, which was issued by a district court judge late last week. The agreement sets deadlines for those states—as well as 34 others—to reduce the air pollution that causes haze in national parks.David Baron is an attorney for non-profit Earthjustice.“The Clean Air Act required all of these plans to clean up haze to be done by December 2007, and most states didn’t do that,” he said. “And when the states continued to fail and EPA didn’t step in, we filed a lawsuit that requires some action and that’s what lead to this consent decree.”Baron says there was a simple reason Congress initially required a focus on the national parks.“These are places that we’ve set aside for clean, fresh air, for beautiful views, for people to enjoy the majestic scenery and for people to go to and not have to worry about the pollution that we often see in urban areas,” he said. “And unfortunately, for many years, that hasn’t been the case.”Kentucky isn’t affected by the consent decree, because the state’s Division of Air Quality filed its own compliance plan several weeks ago.

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