A Step Apart

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  • Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read

    Posted by skyblu on October 30, 2007


    I’m constantly hearing and bombardier-air-quality-test.jpgreading about how the “SCIENCE” tells us that snowcoaches are better for Yellowstone National Park than are snowmobiles. First off, “SCIENCE” tells us nothing about good and bad, or better and worse. Secondly, summer pollution in Yellowstone is higher than winter pollution. Thirdly, dirty old Bombardier snowcoaches produce more pollution than clean new 4-stroke snowmobiles

    If “SCIENCE” tells us anything, it is the following: 1] people don’t care about the stink of summer, 2] people would rather pollute in winter with nostalgic obsolescence than have clean transportation, 3] 86 members of congress haven’t looked at the data.

    You do know, don’t you, that we have decided that it’s pollution from vehicular emissions that are harmful to the park. It’s not the type of machine that counts, it how dirty or clean it is!

    An Associated Press Article tells us that New Jersey Rep. Rush Holt is leading another congressional charge to rid Yellowstone of snowmobiles. I suggest that he and his 85 other ill-informed colleagues read the:

    Environmental Impact Statement

    In case he can’t read, I’ve reproduced two summary tables for him to review. There is nothing about good or bad, better or worse in the tables, but there is something about how the snowcoaches pollute and how the snowmobiles pollute. I just hope that he can count.






    The bottom right cell in each table is the telling comment, if any, from “SCIENCE.”

    If Mr. Holt wants a simple version he, (or one of his junior staff,) can go to the NPS Nature & Science site and see how the current growing fleet of diesel buses are about to increase pollution. Below is an interesting table from that report if he can’t find the appropriate button on his mouse.


    I realize that appealing to members of congress will get me nowhere. However I can appeal to the people who really care about Yellowstone National Park — PLEASE ELECT CONGRESSIONAL RPRESENTATIVES THAT CAN AND WILL READ.

    nono.jpgworse-than-snowmobile.jpgThere are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in obsolete, noisy, gas guzzling, polluting, Bombardier snowcoaches. There are better ways to visit Yellowstone in winter than in a fleet of diesel buses that are converted for over-the-snow travel. There are better ways to treat our national parks in both summer and winter. Just think about it.

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    2 Responses to “Eighty-Six Members Of Congress Can’t Read”

    1. Frank said

      Thanks for this info. I am curious, however, how many snowmobiles your figures are based on. In order to compare one snowcoach, which say carries 12 or 15 tourists, wouldn’t you have to compare that one coach to 12 or 15 snowmobiles? Isn’t it likely that each individual on that one coach would have his or her own snowmobile? Maybe you already thought of that?

    2. skyblu said


      Although interesting the discussion of pollution per passenger mile is just a bit off the mark. There are some initial research results that show an interesting amalgam of data. Briefly; the Bombardier fleet of “unconverted” snowcoaches are dirtier than single rider 4-stroke snowmobiles on a per mile/per visitor basis.

      There is a privately owned fleet of Bombardier snowcoaches that is nearly completely converted to Chevrolet Vortec V-8’s, with some computer adjustments that bring them into compliance with the 2011 standards. These vehicles are cleaner by about 1/4 on a visitor/mile/pollution basis.

      You can squeeze 11 passengers, (crowded and uncomfortable,) into the Bombardier. You get to sit sideways, cramped, and with all the joy of bodily emanations assaulting your senses, in the Bombardier. The joys of knowing your neighbor this intimately tend to distract from the park experience. The guides are generally well informed and can provide exceptional tour information if you can hear them over the roar and rumble of the antiquated track system, inside the giant tympanic membrane that is the uninsulated body.

      The four-wheel drive vans that have been converted to over the snow travel are as clean as a single rider 4-stroke snowmobile if they are carrying nine passengers. They are quieter than the Bombardier vehicle, have contemporary vehicle seating, and are considerably quieter. There is still a good deal of noise from the Mattracks used on these vehicles.

      The two-wheel drive vans that have been converted to over the snow travel use one of two systems for propulsion. Mattracks + skis for steering, or a crawler-track+skis for steering. These conversions are probably the cleanest per passenger mile, but suffer from noise and ride problems of the crawler-track systems.

      The current crop of diesel bus conversions are comparable to a 4-stroke snowmobile in CO and HC emissions per passenger mile and about 10 times dirtier in the NOx category. These vehicles use both the Mattrack and the crawler-track/skis conversions.

      Finally, emissions vary with engine condition, age, computer program, and driver competence. As conventional motor vehicle engines age the emissions will grow. Most of the conversions have to run at 2 -3 times design speed for the attained mph. This does not auger well for the pollution in the park in 2012, 2013, 2014, etc.

      The problem is complex, and is constrained by demand for visitation. As less people ride snowmobiles more will ride conversion vehicles – or – vice versa!

      ….. Skyblu

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