Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Clean Air

One reason we visit national parks is for the vista, as many have views of extraordinary beauty. I remember visiting Chaco Canyon one December about twenty years ago, and after climbing out of the canyon to one of the remaining building on the top of the canyon, I had a breath-taking 360-degree view of the area, including seeing the distant moutains of southern Colorado.

In that brief period I understood why the building was there, wondering what the native people thought and how they lived more than 500 years ago. I shared their view, unimpeded to the horizon, undeveloped by man, and only changed by time. Because we value clean air.

And now focusing my retirement on Mt. Rainier NP, clean air is of the utmost importance because of proximity of the Puget Sound development and pollutants from the west and southwest, even from over the ocean carried across by the Jet Stream. Our climate is global now and pollution anywhere in each hemisphere disperses and diffuses throughout the hemisphere. No one is immune from the effects, especially the accumulation of pollution.

And so the national parks deserve special consideration. So why is the Environmental Protection Agency trying to loosen the rules on air quality in and around national parks? Only because the political allies in the coal and energy industry have lobbied the Bush administration to loosen the rules to build up to 186 new coal-fired power plants near national parks.

Why is it that political appointees who sell the new rules spin the rhetoric without addressing what they're really doing? Like that's new? Ok, not, but you have to read between and behind their rhetoric before you believe they're working to ensure we have clean air, and our national park are further degraded by pollution.

And how does the new standards work? Simple. Instead of taking air samples during intensive studies, such as every 3-4 hours over several days, noting the extremes and average, they propose to average all the data into an annual sample, and only if that exceeds the limits will penalites be considered. This effectively means the limit will never be exceeded all the while the pollution gets worse.

We and our national parks deserve better, and the Bush administration has shown where they loyalties lie, with the polluters and not the people. Why else would someone from west Texas not undetsand clean air?

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