Letter to Senator Barrasso: Ozone Alerts in Sublette County
Letter to the Editor
March 28, 2008
Editorís Note: Pinedale Online received this copy of a letter sent by a Pinedale resident to U.S. Senator Barrasso regarding the recent Ozone alerts in Sublette County. Reprinted with permission.
Dear Senator Barrasso:
I am sending you this email because you are both a Senator from Wyoming and a physician. I am extremely concerned about the recent OZONE alerts in Sublette County. One reason I moved to Wyoming - from metropolitan Atlanta - was for the incredible quality of life to be found in my new home state, i.e. clean air, clean water, long distance vistas, and opportunities for outdoor recreation.
I had experienced OZONE Alerts in Georgia, with warnings not to be outdoors, and cautions against physical exertion and dire predictions of the impacts of inhalation of poor quality air. OZONE in the south spiked each year as the temperatures rose in late Spring and Summer and heat encouraged its formation. You may not have noticed but several of our Wyoming temperatures last summer were HIGHER than the temperatures in Atlanta and other southern areas! I thought that I had left this poor air quality scenario behind until the OZONE alerts began to be issued by the Wyoming DEQ based on their stations in Boulder, Daniel, etc. If we are having OZONE alerts now when the daily temperatures are in the 30's - what can we expect this summer when we experience temperatures in the 80's and upwards??
As a physician, you know better than I the dangers of OZONE inhalation - chest pain, coughing, throat irritations, congestion, along with the long term impacts which worsen bronchitis, emphysema and asthma. One thing that was so surprising to me when I moved to Wyoming was seeing the large number of people who must use oxygen on a daily basis. I had never before witnessed so many folks who must haul metal containers every step throughout their day. It is obvious that currently there is a health problem in Wyoming for citizens with breathing problems as you see this every day on a trip to the grocery store or hardware store or church.
I am concerned that Wyoming folks who have been hard workers, raised families, paid their dues and contributed to building up our state are now to be pummeled with the negative impacts of OZONE which will further threaten their health. I am concerned that OZONE related medical care and hospitalizations will help push Wyoming's health care costs through the roof. Further I am concerned that we Wyoming taxpayers will foot the bill as OZONE makes our breathing impaired citizens even sicker.
In the recent editions of the Casper Star Tribune, Pinedale Roundup and Sublette Examiner, the headlines read: BLM: Plan Would Create More Air Pollution. The articles note that the BLM's own projections show that the proposed 4,400 new gas wells will increase OZONE concentrations. In other words, BLM admits it's actions will increase air pollution - and by extension - put the health of Wyoming taxpayers, residents and voters at risk. The development companies agree to use cleaner rigs if, and it's a big IF, BLM will grant them year round drilling! This means all protections for wildlife - crucial winter range, partuition (birth) areas, etc. - are out the window. This sleight of hand request, i.e. give us unlimited access so we'll use up to date technology, feels like dirty negotiation tactics to me.
Senator Barrasso, I want you to call a spade a spade. I want you to ask the hard questions and not merely rely on the industry mouthpieces based in the front range of Colorado. I want you to help those of us who live here. I want our voices to count for more than those of multi-national companies operating here but whose profits flow back to the United Kingdom, Canada and the Netherlands. Those of us who work, play, pay and pray in Wyoming want to maintain our quality of air and our Wyoming quality of life.
Because you are a physician, I am sure that you share my concern about OZONE's effects on your constitutent's health. Please ask the US Environmental Protection Agency to step in here and assure us that the air is either safe to breathe or to immediately enforce regulations that will reduce OZONE concentrations to levels that are safe for my family, my friends, my beloved state and me.
P. O. Box 2261
Pinedale, WY 82941