Air quality knows no boundaries. One of the consequences of oil and gas development is impacts on air quality. For 17 years, the American Lung Association has analyzed data from official air quality monitors to compile the State of the Air report. Although most residents and visitors probably think the air is clean in Delta County, its neighbors Mesa and Garfield counties get an F grade in the ALA report card (http://www.lung.org/our-initiatives/healthy-air/sota/city-rankings/states/colorado/) for the number of high ozone days, and Gunnison County gets a C. Delta County itself is not yet rated because of a lack of data, but obviously some of the ozone that's documented in adjacent upwind counties will affect Delta County.
On the Front Range, where many counties get an F rating, a study found that oil and gas production accounts for about 17 percent of overall ozone contribution. Much of the ozone found to the west of Delta County probably comes from the large number of oil and gas wells in Mesa and Garfield counties, and even wells in nearby Utah. Delta County's air quality is at risk from future oil and gas development.
The Bureau of Land Management has released a draft Resource Management Plan to guide its regulation of oil and gas development in the county for the next few decades. It will potentially open up almost 900,000 acres in Delta and surrounding counties to leasing, which could result in over a thousand new wells in this area. If you're concerned about the potential impact on your air quality, you can let the BLM know about your concerns. The public comment period ends on Nov. 1. If you think that oil and gas development might also affect the quality of the water, viewshed, opportunities for fishing and hunting, and your health, you can tell BLM. For more information about these issues and how you can provide input to the BLM, see http://www.citizensforahealthycommunity.org/rmp-information.
Dr. David Inouye Hotchkiss
Delta's second annual "Kickoff to Christmas" takes place Saturday, Nov. 25. This event is sponsored by the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce and First Colorado National Bank.