Air quality research to begin in Sublette and Converse Counties

Jan 28, 2013

Researchers at the University of Wyoming are planning to map out the emissions coming from natural gas fields in Sublette County.

The area violates federal air quality standards because emissions from the energy industry have caused high levels of ozone, which is a type of smog, to form.

Rob Field is leading the project. He says they’ll use high-tech mobile monitors to measure air quality.

“So we can actually drive on a designated circuit around the development, inside the development, outside the development, so that we can get a map or a picture of the pollution in real time,” Field said.

He says that will allow them to pinpoint emissions hot spots, and could help them figure out which facilities or equipment are contributing most to the ozone problem.

Field will also begin monitoring air quality in Converse County, to get baseline data.

Some residents there worry that new oil drilling in the area could lead to air quality problems similar to the problems in Sublette County.

But Field says the energy development in the two counties is very different, so its effect on air quality will probably also be different.

“There is a big difference between emissions from a wet natural gas field like Pinedale, and this oil development that we see in Converse County,” he said. “I would expect Converse County to have lower emissions. But that’s just an assertion.”

The monitoring in Converse County is set to start in February or March and will continue for about a year.