Ohio study tracks air pollution from fracking

Fracked nation.

A new study raises more questions about public health risks in oil and gas development zones.

Findings confirm health risks to people living near oil and gas wells

Staff Report

FRISCO — Careful air sampling near active natural gas wells in Carroll County, Ohio showed the widespread presence of toxic air pollution at higher levels than the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe for lifetime exposure, according to scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Cincinnati.

The study reinforces the need for more extensive air quality monitoring in fracking zones around the country, where exposure to the poisonous emissions are likely to lead to increased risk of cancer and respiratory ailments. Continue reading

Climate: When good ozone goes bad

Western U.S. Counties Violating Current and Proposed Ozone Air Quality Standards.

Western U.S. counties violating current and proposed ozone air quality standards. Map courtesy Jeremy Nichols/ClimateWest blog.

La Niña weather pattern found to contribute to spikes in western ozone levels

Staff Report

FRISCO — Spring ozone formation in parts of the western U.S. appear to be linked with the hemispheric La Niña weather pattern, when the path of the jet stream forces high altitude ozone down to ground level.

After discovering the link, a team of researchers say their findings may help forecast harmful ozone episodes well in advance, which could have implications for attaining the national ozone standard. Continue reading

EPA’s Village Green brings air quality data to the people

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Village Green station in Durham, North Carolina. Photo courtesy EPA.

Five new solar-powered monitoring stations to be added this year

Staff Report

FRISCO — The EPA is bringing air quality data to the people with the installation of five new Village Green solar-powered air monitoring stations in different cities around the country. The monitoring instruments are fitted into park benches and will measure common air pollutants and weather conditions.

The project puts science into the hands of citizens, allowing them to access local air quality information from the benches through on-site displays and a mobile-friendly website. Continue reading

Colorado: Noble Energy agrees to clean up Front Range fracking pollution

Settlement with EPA, state health department should cut emissions of smog- and cancer-causing toxic gases

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Smoggy skies. Photo courtesy NREL.

Staff Report

FRISCO — For years, thousands of storage tanks owned and operated by Houston-based Noble Energy leaked toxic smog- and cancer-causing gases into the Colorado’s heavily fracked Front Range.

When when state and federal environmental inspectors confronted the company with evidence of the leaks, executives shrugged, and said their systems weren’t designed to handle the sudden oil and gas boom across the region. Continue reading

Colorado GOP launches preemptive strike on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

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Clean Power Plan under attack in Colorado.

Proposed bill up for a committee hearing today

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Backed by the fossil fuel industry, Republican Colorado lawmakers are launching a preemptive effort to block or delay the state from implementing the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, aimed at reducing emissions from power plants. The plan has not been finalized yet, but that apparently won’t stop the misguided effort in the Colorado Senate.

Senate Bill 15-258, misnamed as the “Colorado Electric Consumer’s Protection Act.” would require the state to undertake burdensome and costly reviews of any Clean Power Plan rules adopted by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s Air Quality Control Division — including a full evidentiary hearing before the Public Utilities Commission to evaluate impacts to electricity rates. Continue reading

Fracking: New aerial research to track pollutants above western fossil fuel development zones

Sensitive instruments to track methane, VOCs and other airborne toxins from New Mexico to North Dakota

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

The Four Corners area (red) is the major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions in this map showing how much emissions varied from average background concentrations from 2003-2009 (dark colors are lower than average; lighter colors are higher). Image courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Michigan.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A recent study of satellite data showing a hotspot of potent heat-trapping methane pollution over the Four Corners region makes it clear that we’re digging an ever-deeper global warming hole by fracking every last corner of the country.

As NOAA put it, “Vast regions west of the Mississippi River are under development for oil and gas extraction … but while one focus is on what comes out of the ground, NOAA and Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences researchers and their colleagues are studying what escapes to the air—and how it is transformed in the atmosphere and affects air quality and climate.

Scientists hope to learn much more about the massive quantities of pollution escaping from fossil fuel development areas in the next few months as they launch this year’s  Shale Oil and Natural Gas Nexus (SONGNEX 2015) field campaign, using airborne instruments to measure greenhouse gases and other toxic emissions.

Continue reading

Environment: Ozone may strengthen potency of allergens

Layers ... captured with iPhone HDR imaging.

Got pollen?

Study links climate change and pollution with growing allergy epidemic

Staff Report

FRISCO — Global warming has already been implicated in the rising tide of allergies, simply because a warmer climate extends the growing season for many plants, or causes them to produce more pollen.

But there’s more to it, according to scientists, who say that a pair of air pollutants linked to climate change could also be a major contributor to the unparalleled rise in the number of people sneezing, sniffling and wheezing during allergy season. Continue reading

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