Yet another winter, and still we are wrangling over snowmobiles in Yellowstone. The National Park Service has released a draft environmental impact statement that would allow 720 snowmobiles a day into the park. It would also require snowmobilers to ride with guides and to use the newest generation of supposedly environmentally friendly machines.
But everything we have learned about snowmobiles in Yellowstone - thanks to an apparently unending series of publicly funded studies - tells us that there should be no snowmobiles there at all.
Last winter, the park service - by accident - conducted an even more persuasive experiment. Snowmobile numbers were way down in Yellowstone, thanks largely to uncertainty about the regulations. And every measurement showed just how much cleaner the air was with only about a third of the machines proposed under this new plan zooming through the park. But even those few still exceeded the noise limits wherever they concentrated - at Old Faithful, for instance.
The park service needs a new plan, and if it can't provide one then Congress should intervene. There should be no snowmobiles in Yellowstone.