Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Uinta Basin mystery: Ozone pollution in the winter
Air quality » Oil and gas production, and the jobs it supports, might hold the key.


< Previous Page


"Our mission," said the NOAA scientist, "is to find out what’s happening so you can decide what to do."

The biggest complication has been this year’s mild winter. Without the usual blanket of snow to bounce the pollution-making sunlight, ozone levels have been low. In fact, they did not reach the federal Clean Air Act standard of 75 parts per billion once this winter.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Last winter, they reached or exceeded the standard 25 times. And the winter before that it was 40, so the investigators already know the snow and inversions somehow play an important role.

"I guarantee you the snow didn’t make ozone before the oil and gas came here," Roberts said

Even without the usual snow cover, inversions and bone-chilling cold, scientists have been pleased with the information they’ve gathered so far.

The silver lining might be that the levels measured this winter will be a good baseline, allowing for better comparisons once they come back and get data for a snowier, presumably more polluted year, said Scott Hill, director of the Energy Dynamics lab in Vernal.

"That will give us a lot of insights," he said.

Scientists working on this year’s study have returned to their labs to analyze all the clues they’ve gathered through the winter. It will take months — perhaps more than a year — to publish their findings.

"We’ve learned a lot," said NOAA scientist Russ Schnell. "But we’ve just started to scratch the surface."

No doubt the results are eagerly awaited in the community.


story continues below
story continues below

Tom Elder, a high school science teacher in Vernal, said he hopes the study will produce some valuable answers and suggest solutions that will clean up the air without spurring a regulatory crackdown that could cost jobs and cripple the economic vitality as many fear.

"I do hope they follow the evidence to the truth regardless of what they find," he said, applauding the cooperative effort by the local, state and federal regulators and the energy industry. "The reason it came together is because they are scared spitless."

fahys@sltrib.com

Twitter: judyfutah



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.