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Sequoia National Park Air Quality Worsens

Sequoia National Park protects a large-scale ecosystem directly east of California’s heavily populated Central Valley. Nearby oil fields have led to some of the poorest air quality in the entire nation. In fact, the parks' air has more days rated "unhealthy" than the City of Los Angeles. Yet the current administration proposes to open an additional 1.2 million acres to oil and gas development.

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Sequoia National Park Air Quality Worsens

Sequoia National Park protects a large-scale ecosystem directly east of California’s heavily populated Central Valley. Nearby oil fields have led to some of the poorest air quality in the entire nation. In fact, the parks' air has more days rated "unhealthy" than the City of Los Angeles. Yet the current administration proposes to open an additional 1.2 million acres to oil and gas development.
1.3M
people impacted
$53.5B
potential funding
the problem
Nature and Context

Sequoia National Park helped spur the creation of the National Park System. Visitors travel from around the world to see the towering granite cliffs of Yosemite and the giant sequoias of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The largest tree on earth, the General Sherman, is found in the groves at Sequoia National Park.

Sequoia and its neighbors protect a large-scale ecosystem directly east of California’s heavily populated Central Valley. Unfortunately, this administration has recently proposed to open over 1.2 million acres of the Central Valley to oil and gas development.

Symptoms and Causes

Over the years, Sequoia National Park has seen its fair share of air pollution from one of the largest oil fields in the United States, just down the road in Bakersfield, California. The massive footprint of the oil and gas industry, along with the smog from other sources within the Central Valley, has led to some of the poorest air quality in the entire nation. In fact, the town of Visalia near Sequoia ranked as No. 2 for ozone pollution by the American Lung Association’s State of the Air Report. And in 2018, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks were two of four national parks that had unhealthy air for most park visitors to breathe for more than two months of the year.

From 1993-2014, the air quality of Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Parks was rated 'unhealthy' on 2,739 days. In Los Angeles, there were only 2,443 bad air days during the same period.

the impact
Negative Effects
  • Poor air quality

  • Public health issues

  • Harming wildlife

Economic Impact

Communities of the Central Valley, particularly Latino communities, bear the brunt of the unhealthy air quality. The historical disenfranchisement of these communities has resulted in lower median income and lower health outcomes. If more lands near these parks are opened for development, it would further add to the public health crisis and worsen the air quality for the entire region.

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ideas
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attributions
Data Sources

National Parks Conservation Association - https://www.npca.org/case-studies/sequoia-national-park

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Giving Tech Labs Team - giving.tech