Sublette County’s 1st Air Pollution Advisory issued
Air quality “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups”
by Dawn Ballou, Editor, Pinedale Online!
Original post February 28, 2008 | Updated February 29, 2008
We’ve never had one before, but it happened on Wednesday, February 27, 2008. Sublette County, Wyoming, got its first Air Pollution Advisory alert from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WYDEQ).
This alert was for potential elevated levels of ozone that might cause respiratory health impacts, especially in children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions.
WYDEQ has never issued an ozone Air Pollution health advisory before in the state.
Sublette County covers an area of 4,883 square miles. In 2000, it had an average population density of one person per square mile. The county population is currently estimated to be a under 7,500 people. Still today in 2008, we do not have a single traffic stop light in the entire county.
So where is this ozone air pollution coming from? Some say it is “blow in” from out of the area. Others point to the natural gas activity boom from the Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline. Others argue everyone who drives a vehicle is contributing to the problem. Some say it is a combination of all of these.
None of the individual single sources can be identified as to blame for pushing air quality levels over the limits. The scientific data simply isn’t there to pinpoint the specific sources. What we do know is that since air quality monitoring began in 2005 there have been three instances where ozone levels increased to levels of concern.
Who is responsible for protecting the environment and public health from all the cumulative sources causing the air pollution occurring in Sublette County?
The fact that the air quality in Sublette County got bad enough that an Air Pollution Advisory was issued, any day of the year, is a wake-up call to everyone that we have a serious air pollution issue that needs to be addressed.
2/29/08: “I for one, am going to point my finger at the 40 drilling rigs with insanely large diesel engines and this week’s police report, which included an evaporation pit on fire, a condensate truck on fire, and a condensate battery storage on fire. Seems like the elephant in the room to me... considering there are a lot more trucks and woodstoves in just about any other area in the state. That and the EPA is about to sue the BLM over air quality....Just my two cents.” – Sublette County resident
Dawn Ballou can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org