Thick Air in Big Bend

Haze over the Texas national park will take 146 years to clear

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

When you look out at the rugged mountains of Texas’ Big Bend National Park, you’ll probably see something less beautiful than jutting peaks and green river valleys. The hazy air that blankets the park is obscuring the view of even the tallest peaks that were easily seen 20 years ago.

Unfortunately, the view’s not changing anytime soon. The Environmental Protection Agency has asked states to clean up certain areas like national parks by 2064. Environmental commissioners in Texas, however, have a different timeline—they see the air not being cleared until 2155.

Why will it take other national parks only 55 years to cut haze but Big Bend plans for 146? Chalk it up to politics and money.

The air cleanup plan drafted by the commission doesn’t include pollution reductions on old and outdated Texas plants, an update that would cost about $300 billion. Rather, it counts on other air quality plans already in place to eventually clear the air. Commissioner Larry Soward told the Houston Chronicle, “We look ridiculous saying it will take us 146 years to achieve this.”

Considering pollution is clinging to the iconic peaks of the national park, discouraging tourists, and creating new allergies in nearby residents—not to mention all the other parks who are cleaning up in almost a third of the time—we’d say ridiculous is pretty dead on.

—Morgan Keys

Clearing Big Bend Air in Texas Will Take 146 Years (AP)

Image Credit: HeatedGroundPhotography via Flickr