LAST MINUTE BUSH IDEAS

As The Tall Twin says, Bush and his thugs are pulling so much last minute atrocities that it’s hard to keep up. But Tall Twin is trying to hit some of the ones that hit her the hardest.  Hit all of us, really, since his attempt to do in the Clean Air Act (and a national park or two) is pretty hard to choke down.  Now, without further ado, here’s the Tall One:
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If you’re planning on visiting a national park or wilderness area you’d better do it now. It looks like a new rule that will relax air quality standards and weaken the Clean Air Act is on the way. The Environmental Protection Agency plans to make it easier to build coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and more near “Class 1 areas.” If the new rule is enacted it could ease the way for the construction of at least two dozen coal-fired utilities within 186 miles of 10 national parks.

Here’s how the rules work now. Pollution levels near national parks are measured over 3-hour and 24-hour periods so they can isolate emission spikes during peak energy demand. Those spikes are what might violate current law and they are what really need to be monitored. The new idea is to average emissions annually. This will mask those dreaded spikes. The EPA could issue the final rule as early as this week.

Many national parks already struggle with poor visibility shrouding otherwise spectacular vistas. For example, in the 1930s the view from Skyline Drive in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park was up to 70 miles. Now on some days it’s as little as one mile. Another issue is acid rain, which can pollute water and destroy trees (and even rock formations.)

Mark Wenzler, who directs clean-air programs for the National Parks Conservation Association said, “The administration’s staunch commitment to coal is so deep that they’re willing to sacrifice our national parks on the way out the door.”

It’s true that, as a nation, we need to make the best of our energy resources. Nonetheless, our national parks and wilderness areas are fragile. Decisions that concern their long term health and well being should not be made as a parting shot as the current administration leaves.

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