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Ozone Reaches Dangerous Levels Around Pinedale

May 7, 2008

Pinedale, WY – There's something in the air around Pinedale, and it's enough to make you gasp. Since Feb. 1, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has been forced to issue five air quality alerts because of high ozone levels; on April 21, the community had the highest ozone level in the nation.

Linda Baker with the Upper Green River Valley Coalition believes the cause is the nearby Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline gas fields. She says those are the same areas where the Bureau of Land Management is planning an additional 4,400 wells. Operators say within five years, they'll install better equipment to catch the pollution, but Baker says that's too long to wait.

"We understand that that technology is available today and we have ozone problems and human health concerns today. We'd like to see that technology installed now. "

Baker points out that the Wind River Range is downwind of the proposed wells, and that area is protected by the Wilderness Act from further degradation of its air quality. She notes the DEQ doesn't have responsibility for where the wells are located, but it does have responsibility for protecting human health.

"One of the biggest concerns are the human health issues in the town of Pinedale and for the people that work in the fields. Those are the people closest to the emission sources, who are breathing it every day."

Deborah Smith/Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WY