Plains Exploration & Production [PXP] is planning to start drilling for gas in the Bridger-Teton National Forest and folks in Wyoming are mighty worried about how this proposal to drill 136 gas wells on 17 pads will affect the natural beauty of the area, the wildlife and their own health. One of their chief concerns is air pollution.
The Trib.com :Wyoming's online news source, posted a report called "Drilling proposal raises ozone, visibility concerns in Wyoming Range" by Whitney Royster, Star-Tribune correspondent trib.com.*
Homeowner Amy Ramage told the Trib "she is troubled by the idea of an out-of-state company coming in and making the pristine Bondurant area 'their own little Jonah in the woods.'"
The "Jonah" she is referring to is the large Jonah gas field in Sublette County, Wyoming. I don't know who first used the phrase "Jonah in the woods" but it was used by Wyoming State Rep. Keith Gingery back in December, 2010, "Hunter claims gas deal stinks. Noble Basin advocates question pact made with energy company, sportsmen groups," Jackson Hole News & Guide.com. The Jonah gas field is one of the 10 largest in the United States. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has a satellite image of the field HERE.
Sadly, all this drilling has led to an increase in ground level ozone. This past Friday, March 4, 2011, the Jackson Hole Daily reported that ozone levels had "exceeded government standards Tuesday and Wednesday, worrying residents and conservationists who say the energy industry is culpable for the pollution." Air pollution has gotten so bad that on some days Sublette County has worse air quality than Los Angeles!
"Big Sky" country has become "Big Smog" country. It's a downright tragedy in the making.
Now Plains Exploration & Production plans to start drilling in the Grand Tetons just miles away from Yellowstone National Park. To be fair, PXP's proposal isn't nearly as large as the Jonah gas field but it's more than a bit disconcerting to learn that "air quality in general is not addressed in PXP's proposal."*
Folks here in California are no strangers to air pollution nor are we unfamiliar with things that are "not addressed" in proposals involving PXP. [Think of the poor folks in the Baldwin hills!]
In regards to the Montebello Hills Specific Plan (MHSP) Draft Environmental Impact Report, the South Coast Air Quality Management District sent a comment letter dated June 12, 2009 which includes this paragraph:
The SCAQMD is concerned that residents and other sensitive receptors in the proposed residential development would be exposed to borderline significant levels of cancer risk and significant operational NOx emissions from the active oil field operations that will continue to operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week within the proposed development. The lead agency has estimated that sensitive receptors would be exposed to a cancer risk level of 9.9 in one million compared with the SCAQMD threshold of 10 in one million (1.0 x 10-5) and would also be exposed to 459 pounds per day of oxides of nitrogen(NOx) from future ongoing oil field operations, which exceeds the SCAQMD’s recommended regional daily significance threshold for NOx of 55 pounds per day by approximately eightfold. Therefore, the SCAQMD is concerned about the incompatibility of the proposed project with the adjacent ongoing oil field operations where residents would be exposed to elevated air toxic emissions and significant criteria pollutant emissions.
Looks like we here in Montebello already have our own "Jonah in the hills."