Friday, January 25, 2013

Breathers Getting Fracked! A Smoggy Warning from Utah and Colorado

While those of us on the East Coast are fretting about the bitter cold and snow threats, there’s a different sort of problem in the frequently fracked oil and gas fields of northeastern Utah and western Colorado: it’s the breathers who are getting fracked with Los Angeles-style smog.

Utah, for example, has already had eight days of ozone this month worse than the current national ozone health standard (which, as we all know, is scientifically too weak to protect breathers).

The US EPA’s “air now” web site archives some of the recent dirty-air misery:

Here are a couple of other public web sites that demonstrate this smog siege:

Is this the proverbial canary in the oil field?   I think we should start paying closer attention because of our increasing reliance on squeezing fossil fuels from the shale.

While this doesn’t necessarily indicate how bad air quality might be in the Marcellus shale region (different geography and conditions), it does indicate that oil and gas production can contribute to smog problems wherever they may occur.  In the Marcellus region during the summer, this could get transported east into the major population centers of the Northeast.  That would be a double whammy on top of the coal plants that won’t be cleaned up by EPA’s cross-state pollution rule. (A federal court yesterday refused to rehear a decision which set the cleanup plan aside.)

And this growing problem is another big reason we need smog-fighting low-sulfur gasoline to make every car on the road pollute less.



Here’s a warning from Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division:


Action Day for Ozone


Issued for Southwest Moffat County and western Rio Blanco County from Kenney Reservoir west, including Rangely and

Dinosaur National Monument.

Issued by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

Originally Issued at 4:00 PM Monday, January 21, 2013

Updated and Continued at 4:00 PM Thursday, January 24, 2013.

Affected Areas: areas below 7,000 ft in Southwestern Moffat County and areas west of Kenney Reservoir in western Rio

Blanco County, including Rangely and Dinosaur National Monument.

Advisory in Effect: 4:00 PM Thursday 01/24/13 to 4:00 PM Friday 01/25/13.

Ozone concentrations are expected to be in the high Moderate to Unhealthy-for-Sensitive-Groups range on Thursday through

at least Friday. These conditions will likely continue through Saturday in valley locations of Southwestern Moffat County and

Western Rio Blanco County. Active children and adults, older adults, and people with lung disease, such as asthma, should

reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion especially from the early afternoon hours through early morning.

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