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May 10, 2000 - BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK IN TEXAS HAS "DIRTIEST AIR" IN THE WEST

State Wants More Study Before Acting


Austin...The air quality at Big Bend National Park in Texas has deteriorated more dramatically than any other national park in the West, according to documents released today by Texas Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (Texas PEER). Local residents are complaining about growing health effects as well as declining visibility.

According to studies, major contributors to the heavy haze over Big Bend include:

* Smog from urban and industrial areas in Houston and Galveston.

* Older coal-fired plants which have been "grandfathered" to exempt them from modern pollution control equipment;

* Mexican coal-fired plants that lack air scrubbers and are balking at installing the pollution control equipment that has yet to be required for similar plants in Texas.

The Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC), the state environmental agency, has refused to even begin evaluating pollution control measures until further studies of pollution in the Big Bend region are completed in late 2001.

"One of the last, best natural places in Texas is being sacrificed for corporate convenience," stated Texas PEER Coordinator Erin Rogers. "Big Bend is one of the crown jewels of the National Park System but its sparkle is lost in the smog."





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