Southwest Idaho is seeing a lot of oil and gas development activity, most notably in and around New Plymouth. The full impact of this development to air quality is still being determined-but not in the most accurate way.

The Idaho Department of Lands lists six wells as producing, with an additional twelve either awaiting drilling or installation of transmission lines. We believe that air emissions data from each new and existing operating well should be aggregated with emissions data from nearby treatment facilities that are associated with the well. Combining pollution data from all related sources will provide a more accurate account of the true effect that these operations have on air quality in the surrounding communities.

The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) disagrees with our recommendation and instead is choosing to manage each well and treatment facility as an individual entity.

Determining the impacts on air quality is a complicated process, and DEQ relies on air-dispersion computer models to calculate the effect that sources will have on air quality in surrounding communities. By treating each well or facility as an individual entity, air quality models lack the data needed to accurately predict air quality in nearby communities.

You can read more about this issue and DEQ’s stance in a recent article written by April Ehrlich of the Argus Observer.

As oil and gas operations continue operating in the region, the Idaho Conservation League will continue providing comments and feedback to regulating state agencies whenever new infrastructure is developed or regulations are proposed. We know how important clean air is to all Idahoans!