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EPA protecting refuge from air pollution

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a plan Wednesday to address air pollution coming from Texas that is reducing visibility at the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma, as well as the Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains National Parks in Texas.

“There’s a tradition of rivalry and competition between Oklahoma and Texas, and Oklahomans would never accept Texas messing with us,” said Johnson Bridgewater, director of the Sierra Club’s Oklahoma Chapter. “Unfortunately, haze pollution from outdated Texas coal plants has messed with the air quality in our Wichita Mountains for years.”

Pollution from Texas’s outdated coal-fired power plants drifts across state lines and affects visibility and public health from Colorado to Louisiana. Coal plants in Texas emit more pollution than coal plants in any other state.

Under a Clean Air Act protection called the Regional Haze Rule, states are required to develop plans to clean up pollution and improve air quality at national parks and wilderness areas.

“Today, EPA issued landmark air quality standards for Texas that will clear the skies and clean the air for people in Texas and Oklahoma,” Earthjustice attorney Matthew Gerhart said. “Texas emits more harmful sulfur dioxide pollution causing lasting injury to communities and damage to the environment than any other state, and its power plants have some of the highest sulfur dioxide emission rates in the country.”

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality put forward a do-nothing plan in 2009, now rejected by the EPA, that the commission admitted would not have cleared the air for more than 140 years and did not require a single Texas power plant to install pollution controls.

In related news, EPA intends tougher downwind air-pollution rule in 23 states.

This article was from The Norman Transcript, Okla. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.