Tahoe violating ozone standards
League press release
Mar 10, 2010
A layer of smog hovers over the lake one summer day. The Tahoe Basin is experiencing ozone violations during summer months due to auto and boat exhaust. Photography by Peter Spain.
Numerous scientific studies have suggested that Tahoe's air pollution is not really imported from out of the area, but is primarily created within Tahoe Basin. The unpleasant reality is that boat and auto exhaust are the sources for creating toxic levels of ozone in the Tahoe Basin during the summer.
The news comes as Tahoe's planning agency is contemplating a new plan for developing Lake Tahoe. The regional plan could change the face of many communities and will shape what impacts cars and boats have on air and water quality.
"We are at a critical point where we can tackle serious air quality issues," said Carl Young, program director at the League. "People come to Tahoe to enjoy pristine mountain air. Tahoe's regulators can no longer ignore air quality when it comes to planning for the region's future and protecting human health."
The Tahoe Regional Planning Agency is pushing to have the new 20-year regional plan approved by 2011.
Boats create approximately 40-45 percent of ozone-causing gases in Lake Tahoe, according to TRPA analysis.
Ozone is toxic to people, plants and animals. It is created when sunlight interacts with gases from engine exhaust. While there are far fewer boats on Lake Tahoe than cars driving around it, clean boat engine technology has not kept pace with cars. A typical speed boat engine can spew out 1600 times as much ozone-producing gases as a Subaru.
The California Air Resources Board listed Tahoe among areas in "nonattainment" for ozone, which means ozone levels in Tahoe have consistently violated state standards Previously, from 2006-2008, air regulators listed Tahoe as "unclassified."
California Air Resources Board. 2006. Lake Tahoe Atmospheric Deposition Study (LTADS).
Alan Gertler, et al. 2006. Local air pollutants threaten Lake Tahoe's clarity. California Agriculture 60(2): 53-58.
Contact: Carl Young, Program Director, League to Save Lake Tahoe, 530-541-5388