Hikers climbing up Shenandoah National Park's Old Rag might find their view of the Blue Ridge Mountains obscured by smog as the summer tourism season kicks into gear.
Many national parks have had problems with ozone for years, but the Environmental Protection Agency is working on stricter regulations that officials hope will keep air pollution from clouding the views from mountaintops and hurting the lungs of park visitors.
|'Many areas in the West have little chance of identifying sufficient controls to achieve attainment because they're not causing it.'|
Despite those areas being owned by the federal government, the states are responsible for the air quality in national parks and federal wilderness areas, said Jeffrey Olson, a public affairs officer at the National Park Service.
Twenty-six of the nation's 58 national parks and many of its wilderness areas would be in violation of the Environmental Protection Agency's new ozone standards when they take effect. The EPA tightened its standard last year, from 75 parts per billion to 70 parts per billion.
Critics of the EPA rules say it's nearly impossible for the counties surrounding national parks to comply with the new standards because they are in wilderness areas without much industry nearby. Not being in compliance could end up harming a county's economic future, critics say.