Sunday, January 3, 2010

Joshua Tree National Park High Ozone


It had to be Houston, Los Angeles, Phoenix or Dallas. With metro populations in the millions and motorists commuting to work on traffic clogged roads in their ozone producing vehicles, the first area to have four days above 75ppb. for an 8 hour ozone average just had to be one of these cities. Instead, it turned out to be barren, sparsely humanly populated, Joshua Tree National Park.

As of yesterday, April 22nd, Joshua Tree National Park recorded its fourth day of over 75 ppb. for an 8 hour ozone average. As recorded on their monitored ozone site, the park exceeded the new standard on April 18th, 20th, 21st and 22nd. Looking at their remote CAM site, you can see how the region looks as though it would be a great training area for NASA astronauts.

According to the park's website, Joshua Tree National Park encompasses almost 800,000 acres of land and is located at the crossroads of two deserts, the Colorado and the Mojave. Named for the Joshua trees that are found in the region, the park was originally named a national monument in 1936 and became a National Park in 1994. Home to thousands of animals and plants, the park is also the home of high ozone during the summer months, due in part, to being located about 150 miles east of Los Angeles, where pollution is often transported into the area.

The following paragraph from their website describes the problem:

"Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has mandated that the skies above our national parks be subject to the most stringent level of protection, Joshua Tree National Park consistently exceeds the 120 ppb. ozone concentration levels set by the EPA for human health at it's monitoring station located in the northwestern part of the park. An additional monitoring station was recently installed at Cottonwood Spring to determine if the southern part of the park is also out of compliance with air-quality standards."

Joshua Tree National Park is a perfect example of why the new EPA ozone standard of 75 ppb. is not only unfair, but borders on the ridiculous. Will the EPA be meeting with park officials to draft an "emissions reduction" program? Will an emissions testing station be built to test the few vehicles owned by the park? Will the park lose federal funds because they can't clean up their air? If our national parks, with very few human footprints can't stay within the new standard, then how do we expect cities throughout our nation, who are trying to reduce their emissions, to stay within the new standard?

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