Quantcast

26 National Parks Fail EPA's New Ozone Standard

Air pollution is a major problem in many parts of the country, and not even our national parks are safe from choking smog.

Early last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) tightened its ground-level ozone pollution standard from 75 to 70 parts per billion (ppb)—putting 241 counties across the country in non-compliance. That's an additional 14 counties from the 227 that were trying to comply with the 75 ppb standard. The U.S. EPA argues that the annual cost ($1.4 billion) for states to comply is outweighed by the public health benefits, which are estimated at $2.9 to $5.9 billion annually in 2025.

Sequoia National Park in northern California had the second highest ozone pollution levels with 90 ppb.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

The new standard also puts several of our national parks in non-compliance. According to U.S. News & World Reports, "the EPA's newest ozone pollution threshold has placed 26 national parks at non-compliant levels."

But who's to blame? The National Park Service says power plants, while scientists and California officials point the finger at car emissions from the millions of tourists that visit our parks every year.

"Usually ozone pollution is caused by traffic rather than power plants," Dr. Saewung Kim, an assistant professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of California, Irvine, told U.S. News. "Power plants have done a great job cleaning up their emissions and ozone-causing pollutants."

Meanwhile, the National Park Service says compliance is a state issue. "States are responsible for implementing the provisions of the Clean Air Act," said Jeffrey Olson, chief of education and outreach at the National Park Service. "They will eventually have to put plans in place to show how they can come into compliance with violations of the ozone standard."

Either way, it's bad news for those who see our parks as a refuge from the pollution of cities. Stephanie Kodish, head of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Clean Air Program, said in a statement that while the rule is a "much-needed step," it doesn't go far enough to protect our parks.

Kodish said:

"The ozone standard ... at 70 parts per billion will not have the health benefits it could and fails to establish a separate and necessary standard for ecosystems. The Clean Air Act requires EPA to protect not only public health from air pollution but also our forests, streams, lakes, parks and wildlife. In failing to adopt this additional standard, EPA is putting ecosystems at risk, blatantly disregarding decades of research, the advice of its own science advisors and the law.

We are disappointed that EPA failed to take steps to better protect national parks from ozone pollution, and we hope the agency will pursue other means to reduce air pollution that plagues our parks. For example, EPA is reviewing the Regional Haze Rule, the Clean Air Act provision designed to protect the air quality in our national parks, many of which experience poor air quality on a regular basis. The EPA can help protect our parks and their visitors by strengthening the Regional Haze Rule to put our parks on the path to clean air.”

U.S. News found "in all, 11 states have national parks that are in non-compliance with the new ozone standard: Arizona, 3; California, 9; Colorado, 2; Connecticut, 3; Illinois, 1; Maine, 1; Massachusetts, 1; Nevada, 1; New Jersey, 2; Pennsylvania, 1; and Utah, 2. Ozone levels are calculated over a three-year period."

Across these states, many of the parks that fail to meet the requirements are iconic. Check out a few of them below:

[insert_gallery]

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

The Mystical Powers of Mushrooms

Elon Musk’s Brother Wants to Revolutionize Our Food System

CBS Reporter Ben Swann Tells the Truth About CDC Vaccine Cover-Up

12 Nontoxic Nail Polish Brands

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
Supply boats beside Aberdeen Wind Farm on Aug. 4, 2018. Rab / CC BY 2.0

President Donald Trump doesn't like wind turbines.

In April, he claimed they caused cancer, and he sued to stop an offshore wind farm that was scheduled to go up near land he had purchased for a golf course in Aberdeenshire in Scotland. He lost that fight, and now the Trump Organization has agreed to pay the Scottish government $290,000 to cover its legal fees, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

By Paul Brown

When countries run short of food, they need to find solutions fast, and one answer can be urban farming.

Read More Show Less
Trevor Noah appears on set during a taping of "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah" in New York on Nov. 26, 2018. The Daily Show With Trevor Noah / YouTube screenshot

By Lakshmi Magon

This year, three studies showed that humor is useful for engaging the public about climate change. The studies, published in The Journal of Science Communication, Comedy Studies and Science Communication, added to the growing wave of scientists, entertainers and politicians who agree.

Read More Show Less
rhodesj / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Cities around the country are considering following the lead of Berkeley, California, which became the first city to ban the installation of natural gas lines in new homes this summer.

Read More Show Less