04/06/2011 10:22 am ET Updated Jun 06, 2011

Government Shutdown Could Affect The Environment If National Parks, Toxic Waste Cleanup, EPA Work Is Halted

How would a government shutdown affect the environment, and in turn, affect Americans?

According to CNN, 368 National Park Service sites were closed during the last government shutdown.

Indiana is a case in point. Yahoo! News reports on the impact of a government shutdown in Indiana:

The National Park Service in Indiana would be severely affected by a federal government shutdown. Indiana has three national parks and 30 national natural landmarks. A shutdown would close all the national parks and have a large impact on the local economy.

Figures from 2009 reveal the positive impact of national parks on Indiana's economy. In 2009, more than 2 million people visited the parks and spent more than $51 million during their visits. Indiana is still recovering from the recession, so the loss of visitor spending would not come at a good time for the state. During the previous federal government shutdown that lasted 21 days, 7 million people across the U.S. were not able to visit national parks.

No visitors means less money and support for the parks.

The Washington Post reports that toxic waste cleanup work also was halted during the last shutdown. 609 sites reportedly stopped their cleanup projects, and 2,400 Superfund workers were furloughed.

Also during the last shutdown, climate research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was halted, and NOAA had to shut down its 12 national marine sanctuaries.

As for the EPA, most of its 18,000 employees were prohibited from entering the agency's premises, and The New York Times reports that headquarters were like a ghost town.

A government shutdown carries widespread ramifications. Will environmental centers and agencies turn into ghost towns once again?