National parks’ air and land under threat from energy development

Thousands of miles of new pipelines and power lines could soon snake through national parks, national forests, and other public lands in the West. The energy bill signed into law last year called on federal agencies to speed up approval of new energy corridors by putting them under a single, overarching environmental review instead of doing project-by-project analyses. People who like their national parks and forests unmarred by pylons and trenches, and not at risk of pipeline explosions, are unimpressed. “We’re talking about millennia, if ever, for recovery of an ecosystem,” says retired U.S. Geological Survey scientist Howard Wilshire. In related news, new data show that ozone pollution worsened significantly at 10 Western national parks from 1995 to 2004. “Most people think they’re going to go to a national park and experience clean, fresh, clear air, and that is not the case in many places,” admits John Bunyack of the National Park Service.