MOUNT DESERT ISLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Acadia National Park is a big part of why people choose to vacation in Maine, but there are concerns that pollution could damage its beauty.
The Natural Resources Council of Maine is working with the EPA to beef up air quality laws outside of Maine before it hurts tourism and health there.
“The 2.5 million people that visit here, the tens of thousands of jobs, all of that are economic benefits that come with cleaner, healthier air,” said Dylan Voorhees, Clean Energy Director of the Natural Resources Council of Maine.
The Environmental Protection Agency is proposing revisions to its Regional Haze Rule, one that protects national parks like Acadia from slowly being impacted by pollution from power plants as far away as New York and Ohio.
“It’s really unfair that those plants are polluting our air and I think it’s fair that Maine people to say you need to pay to clean up those power plants,” said Voorhees.
The Regional Haze Rule is part of the Clean Air Act. This act has been holding power plants accountable for pollution since the early 2000s.
But officials say it’s time to strengthen the rule before businesses in Bar Harbor suffer.
“In the past one or two years, I’ve had a few days of summer that I’ve had to cancel hikes because of ozone alerts,” said nature tour guide Rich Macdonald.
Macdonald owns a guided nature tour business and co-owns the Natural History Center.
“I’m worried that it will have a measurable effect on Maine’s and my nature based tourism,” said Macdonald.
Acadia National Park air quality monitors indicate the laws so far have contributed to improved air quality, but more needs to be done.
“If those get relaxed or there’s more pollution on top of that that’s going to be a problem so we definitely have to remain vigilant and keep up the good work,” said Bill Gawley, air and water quality program manager.
The EPA is allowing the public to voice their comments through July at http://www.epa.gov/.