Northwest’s Columbia River Gorge challenged by smog, acid fog

Hundreds of miles north of California’s cow-poot-clogged San Joaquin Valley (yes, that was just an excuse to mention cow poots), the Columbia River Gorge along the border between Oregon and Washington is facing its own battle of the haze, with views of nearby Mount Hood often obscured by smog. Acid rain and fog have become problems too, corroding petroglyphs and harming animals and plants. Likely culprits include car exhaust, coal-plant emissions, and ammonia fumes from a dairy complex, among others. Though the Columbia River Gorge Commission — established by Congress in 1986 to protect the gorge, a national scenic area, from development — has called for its air to be “protected and enhanced,” no one seems to know exactly what that means or who is responsible for making it happen. Conservationists are getting restive and say they may consider using litigation to get action on cleaning up the gorge’s air.