"There is no question that today’s decision means more detrimental effects on national parks and the ecosystems integral to their survival." - Ulla Reeves, Campaigns Director of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Clean Air Program
Today the Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will yet again delay reconsideration of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for ground-level ozone, restarting the process in the spring of 2024. Disregarding legal decisions which point to EPA’s responsibility to set unique and distinct secondary standards in timely fashion in the name of protecting nature, wildlife, ecosystems and parks, the announcement comes as a devastating blow to clean air throughout the nation. In addition to hindering natural processes essential to ecosystems throughout national parks, EPA’s failure to act allows ozone pollution to continue harming pollinators and critical tree species, such as the black cherry tree in the east and Ponderosa pine in the west.
Commonly referred to as smog, ozone is a highly damaging air pollutant responsible for asthma and serious lung and health issues in humans, burning of tree leaves, stunted growth in plants and animals, impaired pollination for bees and butterflies and damage to the respiratory systems and immune functions of birds. Science shows that plants, animals and ecosystems cannot escape the dangers of ozone because they experience uninterrupted exposure night and day, year-round, when pollution levels are high.
Statement by Ulla Reeves, Campaigns Director of the National Parks Conservation Association’s Clean Air Program:
“There is no question that today’s decision means more detrimental effects on national parks and the ecosystems integral to their survival. Given the far-reaching effects ozone has on some of our nation’s most celebrated places, from Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and from Yosemite in California to Acadia National Park in Maine, we cannot afford another delay and continued inaction. Many of our parks regularly struggle with dangerous ozone levels, so we are deeply disappointed in this move from EPA that will perpetuate harm to wildlife, nature and ecosystems across our parks and the nation. The EPA already has the science in-hand to strengthen standards to protect parks, as well as the communities and wildlife which rely on them. Kicking the can down the road yet again is unacceptable.”
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