March 1, 2008

The Last Place This Should Be Happening

The State of Wyoming is facing something unprecedented: unhealthy ozone pollution.

Ozone, otherwise known as smog, is long-known as an urban health threat. In the Rocky Mountain region though ozone is beginning to plague even rural communities, including those in western Wyoming. This week, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality issued an ozone health advisory for the western part of the state, the first time ever that such an alert has been issued.

The reason for this unhealthy air pollution? Rampant oil and gas drilling.

Oil and gas drilling is spewing out pollutants that form ozone. These pollutants are coming from drill rigs, pollution venting at wells, and natural gas compressor engines. And more drilling is on the horizon. EnCana announced this week it wants to drill nearly 100 new oil and gas wells in western Wyoming.

The other part of the problem is that the Bureau of Land Management, which has given the green light to massive amounts of oil and gas drilling in western Wyoming. Just last week, the EPA ripped the Wyoming Bureau of Land Management for failing to protect air quality.

It's a mix of rampant oil and gas drilling, growing air pollution, and the failure of government oversight. Unfortunately, for Wyomingites it adds up to a serious health risk. It's time to rein in rampant oil and gas drilling, clear the air, and safeguard public health throughout the Rocky Mountain region, in urban and rural communities alike.

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