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Virginia Tech News / Articles / 2018 / July 

Expert: New research on air quality in National Parks suggests EPA may have work to do

Kevin Boyle
Kevin Boyle

According to a new study, air pollution in nearby areas is affecting National Park visits. Kevin Boyle, a Virginia Tech Professor with 30 years of experience in natural resource economics who reviewed the study, suggests that the findings could have implications for the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

“The park service is not the agency responsible for air quality, the U.S. EPA is the responsible agency. This research provides another source of information for EPA to consider in terms of managing air quality. It also gives empirical information for the park service to lobby the EPA to take action to improve air quality in National Parks.”

“The study indicates that people may access information on park air quality when making visitation decisions. And the relationship the researchers found suggests that people use this information to plan their visit, whether they live close and decide not to visit, or they live far away and select a time of year to visit when air quality will be best.”

“Improving air quality is not just an urban issue – it’s an issue in our remote areas as well. If it’s affecting trips people take to national parks, then it’s affecting their enjoyment of these national resources. If you’re forced to visit a park at another time because of poor air quality, that means that you are not visiting in your preferred time, so there’s a loss to you.”

Background

Boyle is a professor of agricultural and applied economics in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He has focused his 30-year career on valuing natural resources, looking at issues related to air quality and fresh water. His research contributions have aided in arbitrating litigation, advising environmental and government organizations, including both the U.S. EPA and the National Park Service. He holds numerous professional awards including the highest award attainable from the Association of Environmental and Resource Economists.

Schedule an interview

To secure a live or recorded interview with Kevin Boyle, contact Michael Stowe at mstowe@vt.eduor 540-231-2611.

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