Wyoming’s Gas Drilling Boom Leads to Worse Air Pollution than Los Angeles
A boom in natural gas drilling has fouled the once-blue skies over Wyoming. According to the Associated Press, parts of the Western state, known for its “crisp mountain air” and “breathtaking, far as the eye can see vistas,” now have worse air quality than America’s worst-polluted cities, including Los Angeles.
Now it’s not just Wyoming’s scenery that will take your breath away– its air will too. People who live near the state’s gas fields suffer from watery eyes, shortness of breath and bloody noses due to elevated ozone levels attributed to natural gas drilling. Yes, the gas boom has saved Wyoming from the economic woes that have crippled much of the rest of the country. Unemployment is an enviably low 6.4%, and instead of the deficits that plague other states, Wyoming enjoys a budget surplus of more than $1 billion. But this prosperity has come at the expense of the people’s health.
“They’re trading off health for profit,” fumed Elaine Crumpley, a retired school teacher who lives outside the town of Pinedale. “It’s outrageous. We’re not a Third World country,” she told the AP.
In this state where nearly everyone loves the great outdoors and all it has to offer, gas drilling and its resultant pollution has significantly affected the quality of life in some areas. High ozone levels in the Upper Green River Basin have led to government warnings not to go outdoors on the worst-polluted days. These ozone alerts were once unheard of in Wyoming. They were more commonly associated with highly polluted metropolitan areas like Los Angeles, Phoenix and Houston. No more. Now Wyomingites can add air pollution to the already fouled water and earth that have resulted from the rampant natural gas drilling that has scarred the pristine beauty of one of our most gorgeous states.
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