When inhaled, ozone smog can impair lung function, trigger asthma attacks, and aggravate diseases such as bronchitis and emphysema, in some cases leading to premature death. Children, the elderly, and people with existing respiratory conditions are the most at risk from ozone smog pollution, which can drive them to stay indoors in the warmer months when smog levels are highest, robbing children of their summers and others of their ability to work and recreate out of doors. However, the health impacts associated with ozone smog produced by pollution solely from the oil and gas industry have never before been quantified.
The bottom line of the NASA study is that 25 points of emission – gas wells, storage tanks, pipelines and processing plants – are responsible for about one-fourth of all the methane leaking into the atmosphere over the Four Corners.
And the point of a new Environmental Protection Agency rule, forthcoming Bureau of Land Management regulations and the NASA study is not to shut down oil and gas production, but to monitor equipment and mend leaks that likely hurt industry bottom lines as much as the environment.
Methane (CH4) impacts climate as the second strongest anthropogenic greenhouse gas and air quality by influencing tropospheric ozone levels. Space-based observations have identified the Four Corners region in the Southwest United States as an area of large CH4 enhancements
We applaud the BLM and EPA for taking action, and LPEA for taking a step forward on a project that makes good economic and environmental sense, Though a step in the right direction, we do need a comprehensive approach to resolve some of our toughest air, land and water quality issues so, as with the Gold King mine spill, the public is not left footing the bill.
“And even though it’s still relatively new, positive results are already obvious. A survey of oil and gas operators in the state earlier this year, conducted by the Center for Methane Emissions Solutions, showed that Colorado’s rule has improved air quality and promoted worker safety. Also, many in industry are profiting because, instead of releasing natural gas into the atmosphere, it is being used to heat homes and power buildings.”