New Snowmobiles to Be Permitted in Yellowstone Are Dirtier Than Old Models

A new generation of ostensibly cleaner and quieter snowmobiles turns out to be more polluting than older models, according to tests by the U.S. EPA. In a controversial Bush administration decision, the new snowmobiles were approved for use in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks after the industry promised they would have a lower impact on the environment; now, it turns out that the new ‘mobiles produce from 40 to 213 percent more emissions than 2002 models. The tests measured carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions, as well as noise levels; two of the three models tested failed, and none of them bested the 2002 models. “When they say ‘cleaner and quieter,’ you wonder, ‘In relation to what?’” said Jon Catton, a Montana conservationist who lobbied for a ban on snowmobiles in the park. Yellowstone officials, representatives of the Interior Department, and industry leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss the implications of the findings.