The National Park Service says it’s the power plants.
The EPA’s newest ozone pollution threshold has placed 26 national parks – including such gems as Sequoia and Rocky Mountain – at non-compliant levels, while the rest of the nation’s communities must spend billions conforming to the new normal.
The National Park Service blames power plants for much of the problem, and not wildfires that have blanketed the West or tourism bringing in $15.7 billion per year. But if you ask scientists and officials from California where cars rule supreme, power plants aren’t the issue.
Either way, it’s the states’ problem to figure this out, the National Park Service says. The federal government can’t fine itself, as shown with the disastrous Animas River spill in August.
“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.”
On Oct. 1, the ozone pollution standard was lowered from 75 to 70, thrusting 241 counties nationwide onto the non-compliance list. The last time the standard changed was 2008, and 227 counties were not meeting the old threshold. The EPA estimates that compliance with the new standard will cost $1.4 billion annually.
But national parks are among the worst offenders, with one maintaining levels of more than 100 ppb.
The 26 offenders are mainly in the West, with only a handful in the East, where coal-fired power plants dot the landscape.