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North Dakota state regulators are currently developing a plan to implement provisions of the Clean Air Act designed to improve visibility in National Parks and Wilderness areas.

DEQ’s current visibility plan ensures man-made emissions within the state are well-controlled and do not significantly impair visibility at the state’s two parks. DEQ’s new plan, now under review, maintains those protections, accounts for new control efforts already underway, and ensures visibility will continue to improve well ahead of the schedule set by EPA.

However, according to the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the primary causes of visibility impairment in North Dakota are wildfires and international emissions from Canada, neither of which the state can control.

Here are some of the facts.

North Dakota already has the cleanest air in the country—it’s one of only four of the lower 48 states to have never violated federal standards that protect human health and the environment.

North Dakota also has some of the best visibility in the country, which is the only goal of EPA’s “Regional Haze” Program: eliminating man-made visibility impairment by 2064.

Of the visibility impairment remaining in North Dakota’s two parks, 80% to 87% is caused by sources of emissions that North Dakota cannot control, depending on the park in question.

Despite these facts, EPA and others will likely ask North Dakotans to accept the burden of even more controls, particularly on power plants.  However, our power plants have already spent over $2 billion dollars in the last decade to reduce emissions by 66%.  In contrast, Canadian power plants have reduced emissions by only 20% in the same time frame.

Also, modeling conducted by a coordinating group of 15 Western states shows imposing more emission controls at North Dakota power plants would not be cost-effective—visibility will continue to improve at a pace that is more than a decade ahead of EPA’s 2064 goal, regardless of any new controls, and any improvement from new controls would be undetectable. 

Take action today by telling policy makers you support a visibility plan designed by the North Dakota DEQ that recognizes the significant progress made through industry investment that ensures our region continues to benefit from clean and clear air along with reliable, affordable electricity supply, today and in the future.

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