Don Hooper, Interim Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Utah, and Curt Huber, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Colorado, wrote an interesting opinion piece for the Salt Lake Tribune.

While the West is home to beautiful, open-air landscape, it is be threatened by oil, gas and coal refineries. “For the first time ever, health officials issued a high-ozone alert in rural Rio Blanco County in northwestern Colorado, where emissions from oil and gas wells are cooked by the sun into hazardous pollution.”

They went onto say:

To preserve the lung health of our residents, we must find a better way to balance energy needs with the economic necessity of clean air. If we want to maintain our one-of-a-kind quality of life, we need to better manage how we drill for oil and gas.

The individual oil and gas companies that have voluntarily begun to address air pollution are to be commended, but their efforts will only go so far. Protecting public health and welfare and safeguarding our air and land should not be left to chance. They should be guaranteed through better planning and management policies as well as enforceable drilling safeguards on public lands.

Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar is working to foster more protective energy development on public lands through “Master Leasing Plans,” which will take a more inclusive look at the cumulative impacts of drilling and determine how we can better mitigate air pollution impacts. We support this approach and we believe it can make a difference.