Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Why the US Chamber of Commerce is Wrong about Smog in National Parks

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is ramping up its campaign to derail more health-protective national smog standards. Get ready for lots of hyperbole and misleading propaganda!  

The Chamber, which has opposed clean air controls for many years, rolled out a new ditty claiming that under EPA's proposed new standards, a dozen national parks would be in violation -- as if to argue that the standards would be so strict that they could not be met because of naturally occurring conditions.
We took a look at this fanciful claim, and here's what we discovered:

Many national parks on this US Chamber’s list are great examples of why the revised ozone standard is needed so park visitors can breathe clean air. A number of these parks are heavily impacted by air pollution transported there from urban areas, and in several cases, oil & gas production.  In a few cases, the culprit might be forest fires, and the US EPA has a policy that permits exemptions in those situations.
Here are some details:

Grand Canyon Natl. Park – Sometimes gets smog from Los Angeles, other times forest fires (which would be exempted under EPA's "exceptional events" policy).

Yosemite – Smog mainly from human activities in CA’s Central Valley, and sometimes forest fires.

Dinosaur Natl. Monument – heavily affected by oil & gas production pollution in the Uintah Basin during the winter  -- this human-related nearby pollution can cause higher ozone pollution spikes than seen in Los Angeles.  It’s extremely misleading to think of this park as not being heavily polluted by nearby energy businesses.

Joshua Tree Natl. Park – heavily affected by smog from Los Angeles – probably has the worst air quality of any park in the country, and people are causing it.

Seney Natl. Wildlife Refuge – heavily affected by urban pollution (including refineries) located in the southern Lake Michigan area (e.g., Chicago/Gary/Milwaukee).

Carlsbad Caverns – Likely affected by pollution from oil & gas production in the area, as well as wildfires, and may be affected by pollution transported from El Paso/Ciudad Juarez urban area.

Zion – Wildfires; would be exempted under exceptional events policy.

Rocky Mountain Natl. Park – Heavily affected by air pollution from urban areas along the Front Range (e.g., Denver metro area) as well as oil & gas production directly to the east of the park.

Great Basin – Likely wildfires and possible stratospheric intrusions.  All would be exempted under exceptional events.

Great Smoky Mtns. – Heavily affected by coal power plants to the west of the park.
Cape Cod -- Downwind of urban pollution.

Escalante -- Likely a mixture of oil and gas operations, wildfires and stratospheric intrusion.

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