Weatherdem's Weblog

Bridging climate science, citizens, and policy

Ozone Pollution and Fossil Fuel Drilling

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One more reason to stop burning fossil fuels has come out after recent observations of low-level ozone levels were found throughout the inter-mountain (and over-drilled) Western U.S.  Wintertime ozone pollution is quickly becoming as much a problem as summertime ozone pollution.  What amazes me is not what amazes the industry, of course.  Somehow, the last decades’ worth of fossil fuel drilling operations explosion hasn’t factored into anybody’s mind now that the problem has been detected.

The article says that high levels of ozone haven’t been detected yet in Colorado, while Wyoming, New Mexico and Utah have been positively identified as problematic.  I think that’s simply a matter of Colorado being undersampled or sampled incorrectly.  There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong about that, but given the levels of ozone found in neighboring states, I would hope that organizations in Colorado become more aggressive about testing fossil fuel drilling operations next winter.  Some already are:

The federal Environmental Protection Agency is drafting a new ozone- sampling plan that “may require more monitors and in some areas year- round testing,” said agency spokeswoman Cathy Milbourn.

I’ll take this opportunity to point out that this is what the EPA was designed to do.  The Bush “administration’s” mis-use of the EPA frustrated a lot of important efforts, ozone detection among them.

Then there’s this:

Still, the oil and gas industry is already moving to cut emissions, and in the Pinedale area, more than $100 million has been invested to cut emissions, according to a NOAA estimate.

Interesting.  Normally the industry fights and whines about the “enormous” costs associated with mitigating their pollution.  That isn’t evident in this article.

Despite that, this is one more reason to not drill oil and gas in the first place.  What pollution does solar (photovoltaic or thermal) produce when absorbing the sun’s energy?  What pollution do turbines produce when absorbing the wind’s energy?  None.  Now, there is likely to be some pollution generated when the solar and wind infrastructure components are originally constructed.  The same can be said for fossil fuel infrastructure, though.  Overall, solar and wind are far less polluting energy sources than are fossil fuels.  Greenhouse gas and ozone pollution can and should be completely removed from our energy production.  After all, there is more than enough (see here and here – 4th link from the top) renewable energy available for our society’s needs.

Cross-posted at SquareState.

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