Visits to Maine’s Acadia National Park are meant to be a chance to enjoy what the best of what nature has to offer. But too often, the manmade world comes along, in the form of pollution that not only clouds the air but also makes it hard to breathe. Acadia is celebrating its 100th anniversary next week, and to mark this milestone – and protect the park’s air and climate – improvements to the federal Clean Air Act should be allowed to move forward.

The unhealthy air that sickens Maine residents and visitors is the result of emissions from coal-fired power plants in states to our south and west. So by setting the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan – one of the new Clean Air Act rules that federal regulators are considering – could do a lot to improve public health here.

There’s no downside for Mainers, in fact, because our participation in a regional emissions compact means that we’re already well on the way to meeting the proposed federal standards. But industrial polluters have challenged the Clean Power Plan in federal court, leading the Supreme Court to put the new emissions restrictions on hold pending a judicial review.

That’s bad news for people who come to Maine wanting to explore the stunning landscapes around them. Registered Maine Guide Rich MacDonald had to wrap up a recent outing early, when he saw a yellowish haze, and some in the party he was guiding to Acadia’s Pemetic Mountain started struggling just to breathe.

“The family wanted to go on, but it was clearly unsafe for the boy’s lungs,” MacDonald told the Maine Public Broadcasting Network on Tuesday.

Mount Desert Island Hospital’s ER director, Dr. Nathan Donaldson, told MPBN that an 11-year-old park visitor with asthma wound up in the ER because she couldn’t breathe after a day when Acadia’s ozone levels were particularly high.

“Nebulizers and steroids were able to prevent having to put a breathing tube down her throat,” Donaldson said, “but we see the patients like this often with asthma.”

Maine has one of the nation’s highest rates of asthma – it affects about 1 in 10 children here – and carbon emissions feed conditions that can lead to asthma attacks, such as ozone pollution and longer pollen seasons. And attacks like the one recalled by MDI Hospital’s Donaldson send a lot of Maine kids to the ER, an experience that frightens them and their families and drives up health care costs.

So although dirty air in Acadia attracts attention because it’s so dreadfully out of place there, pollution is a public health issue throughout Maine, and Acadia’s birthday should spotlight the need to keep cheap power produced outside our state from affecting the health of people who live and travel here.