6_NationalParks

6. YOU WON'T NEED GAS MASKS TO VISIT NATIONAL PARKS

When you visit any of this country's 391 national parks, preserves, seashores, and other areas managed by the National Park Service, you expect them to be kept reasonably clean. And that isn't just limited to picking up stray soda cans — you'd expect that the air there is clean too. But these past eight years, you've had to lower your expectations. Under the Bush administration, the Park Service has gotten into the habit of using "agency discretion" to shrug off objections to, say, proposals for coal-fired power plants next to the Great Smoky Mountains, from which mercury pollution now continually showers the environment. Air pollution is now rampant, and growing, among national parks. The National Parks Conservation Association reported this year that nearly half our national parks have "significant problems" with air quality, and more than half have visibility reduction due to pollution.

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