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Ozone Pollution Issues in Sublette County
The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Mineral, Business, and Economic Development Committee met in the Jackson Town Hall over the last two days discussing a myriad of issues. One topic discussed was the repeated problem of exceeding ozone pollution levels in Sublette County in the winter time. Two winters ago was a real problem. Last winter was not as bad.
John Cora, the Director of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, gave a report on what the state has done to try and bring the levels of ozone down. The oil and gas industry have been switching out machinery that will burn cleaner and the DEQ has increased their enforcement in the area.
What I found most interesting was that the real reason that we didn’t have a problem last winter was primarily because there was not as much snow cover on the ground as the previous winter. It turns out that for ozone to form you must have the particulates, but you also need some atmospheric conditions (an inversion) and you need snow cover. The snow cover reflects the UV radiation that causes the reactions to occur. Without extensive snow cover the ozone problem does not occur as badly as it does when snow cover is present. May not have gotten all of the science right, but that is what I took away from the meeting. If someone can explain it better, leave a comment below.
There was also a discussion in that the Feds have changed the rule from the allowable amount of ozone from 80 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion. The Feds are in the middle of a court battle to move the number down to between 60 and 70 parts per billion. The state is presently enforcing at the 75 parts per billion, but are monitoring the court case back in D.C. to see if they will need to drop that standard down any further in the future.