Breath of Clarity

Environmental Policy Analysis: Final Paper Proposal


My paper is going to examine the current policies in place protecting National Park air quality. The central goal of the Clean Air Act (CAA), originally passed in 1970, is achieved through the attainment and maintenance of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (National Parks Service 2018). The 1977 amendments added specific goals to protect Class I watershed areas, including National Parks larger than 6,000 acres, from experiencing significant deterioration due to new air pollution sources (National Parks Service 2018). The CAA officially declared commitment to provide the National Park Service (NPS) with tools needed to protect air quality and sensitive resources in parks (National Parks Service 2018). Further, the CAA set up a process giving the NPS agency in making decisions about new air pollution sources near parks and administering pollution control programs needed to prevent air quality from worsening (National Parks Service 2018). At the same time, in 88 percent of parks, air pollution is stifling tree growth, damaging leaves, changing water chemistry, and restricting visibility (Yale School of the Environment 2019). Further, 85 percent of U.S. National Parks have levels of air pollution hazardous to human health (Yale School of the Environment 2019). That said, the current CAA implementation is insufficient in terms of protecting the air quality at National Parks.


My policy proposal is to increase enforcement of Class I standards defined by the CAA via creating explicit requirements for environmental reviews of new oil and gas leases at locations near National Parks to be completed by state governments.


My argument introduces a solution which calls for state governments to lead the way in terms of implementing Class I standards of the CAA. The Trump administration has been limiting public process and environmental review of new oil and gas leases at locations near National Parks (McGough 2019). Further, I am going to illustrate projected resistance to my policy through a collection of case studies showing specific stakeholders who are drilling close to national parks and the elected officials who support them. However, Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co. showed it is possible for high air quality standards in one area to limit pollution sourced from a bordering zone. From there, I am going to transition into discussing how coastal communities have passed formal resolutions prohibiting offshore drilling and Congressional leaders have also voiced their opposition (Lund 2018). For example, Republican Congressman Mark Sanford from South Carolina recognized that the benefits of energy production are simply not worth the threats to that state’s $13 billion tourism economy (Lund 2018). Maine’s Congressional delegation, made up of Independent Sen. Angus King, Republican Sen. Susan Collins and Republican Rep. Bruce Poliquin, also oppose efforts to open the coast to drilling based on it posing significant risk to the state’s marine and coastal resources, economy, and way of life (Lund 2018). All in all, I aim to increase CAA implementation accountability of the states by facilitating their collaboration with the NPS through gaining policy support from passionate collectives and powerful stakeholders.


I. Introduction

A. Define current CAA regulation in National Parks

B. Depict environmental problem to convey insufficiency of current CAA regulation

C. Thesis


Illustrate key stakeholders who would oppose my proposed policy A. The Trump administration

1. Explain the Trump administration’s general attempt to loosen CAA standards 2. Depict the Trump administration’s relationship with scientists as stakeholders 2. Identify the administration’s partnerships relevant to the Class I standards

B. Reference case studies of approved oil and gas drilling projects near National Parks 1. Depict the oil companies as stakeholders who are involved in these projects

2. Explain the viewpoints of elected officials who are supporting the projects

C. Identify key stakeholders who support other pro-drilling legislation Characterize science as a tool to overcome opposing stakeholders

A. Reference the Georgia v. Tennessee Copper Co.

1. Explain major aspects of the case

2. Identify key partnership between the state of Georgia and other stakeholders 3. Emphasize the role of science in the case

B. Explain how the case can be applied to my proposed policy

1. Emphasize the role of states in terms of implementing CAA legislation

– Identify states and their elected officials who conduct strict CAA implementation

– Identify states and elected officials who would strongly support my policy

2. Explain the detail of my proposed policy

3. Determine how to create collaboration between state governments and NPS scientists

– Explain potential obstacles in strengthening the partnership

– Determine how the obstacles can be overcome

Identify key non-governmental groups contributing to getting my policy on the agenda

A. Assess how to involve them in the process



B. Note strategy to maintaining their support V. Conclusion

A. Summarize the argument

B. Projected result of the policy’s successful implementation

C. Suggestions for further research that would be useful in advancing the policy


Lund, Nicholas. 2018. “Courting Disaster”. National Parks Conservation Association. Accessed October 2.

National Parks Service. 2018. “National Parks and the Clean Air Act”. Accessed October 2.

McGough, Michael. 2019. “Pollution is a significant problem at 401 national parks, report says”. Accessed October 2. problem-national.html

Yale School of the Environment. 2019. “Dangerously High Pollution Levels Found in Most U.S. National Parks”. E360 Digest. Accessed October 2. dangerously-high-air-pollution-levels-found-in-most-u-s-national-parks