Green River Star -

By David Martin
Editor 

County initiates ozone plan

 

November 15, 2017



A voluntary plan to help mitigate ozone levels in northern Sweetwater County was met with some resistance from one county commissioner, claiming the ozone amounts are fabricated numbers.

The Ozone Contingency Plan approved in a 4-1 vote by the county commissioners, deals with days when ozone levels surpass an amount of 70 parts per billion.

The agreement states the county will not operate road maintenance equipment or let vehicles idle during days where ozone levels are elevated past acceptable limits, known as Ozone Action Days. The agreement also states road maintenance and vehicle idling would be prohibited the day after an Ozone Action Day.

An exemption allows the county to operate road maintenance vehicles during emergencies and to assist school bus operations.

Mark Kot, the county’s public lands planner, said ozone levels typically elevate during periods of heavy snow cover. Areas around the Pinedale Anticline and Jonah Field in Sublette County have been impacted by increased ozone levels since 2005.

According to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, increased ozone is attributed to not just snow cover, but low winds, temperature inversions, sunlight and “adequate amounts of precursor chemicals.” While ozone, comprised of three oxygen atoms, is a good gas in the earth’s upper atmosphere, it can be harmful to breathe.

Ground levels of ozone are created when pollutants react with sunlight.

In 2012, all of Sublette County, as well as the northern portions of Sweetwater and Lincoln Counties, were included in an ozone non-attainment area created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Kot said the county is the only local government participating in the agreement. A majority of the participating groups are oil and gas companies operating in Sublette County, while the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Bureau of Land Management also participate. Kot said there were eight Ozone Action Days in 2017.

Commissioner John Kolb was the only dissenting vote in the agreement’s approval, saying he finds the issue unsubstantiated in his mind.

“It grates on me that we have to comply with the EPA because of some fabricated number,” he said.

Commissioner Wally Johnson disagreed with Kolb’s opinion, believing the agreement is necessary.

“I think it’s a minor thing we’re trying to do … I think we need to comply with this,” Johnson said. 

 

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