Share this page
with your Friends on Facebook

And share with


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency may have inadvertently outlawed deserts in the United States it was learned today. "The new limits on particulates (called PM2.5) bans dust in the air," noted Bill Sork, with the Baja Arizona Department of Air Quality (BADAQ). "Unfortunately, we have a lot of dust in our air because we're a desert," Sork said.

The EPA air quality standards were intended to reduce soot and other fine particles in the atmosphere. "However, these standards were designed for eastern US environments," Sork noted, "and didn't take into account the fact that in the western US, we get dust storms."

The area between Tucson and Phoenix are noted for being the only place in the US to experience the "haboob", a raging dust storm that travels across the desert at 50 or 60 mph. "The Sudan and Egypt are the only other places we know of that have a haboob," Sork added.

When a haboob strokes, visibility is limited to a few feet. "Not untypically, when a dust storm strikes along the freeway, there are massive pile-ups of cars because no one can see where they are going," Sork explained. Arizona used to have dust storm warning signs on its freeways, but eventually removed them because no one could see them during dust storms.

"The new air quality limits are going to be a major problem in the West, because on any given day, we're going to be in violation just because the wind is blowing," Sork said. "About the only way we could reduce the particulate violation problem is to irrigate the entire desert, which raises all sorts of other environmental objections."

Baja Arizona intends to fight the new EPA regulations. "The first time they cite us for a violation that was caused by natural conditions, we're going to insist that they try and enforce their rules against God, who made the deserts."

EPA officials were not available for official comment. However, unofficially, we learned that they were not impressed by the dust storm argument. "It's just another Western state whining about national standards," noted an EPA source off the record.

Back to the Bandersnatch