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The tens of thousands of new oil and gas wells that have popped up in the U.S. over the last decade—especially in the Rocky Mountain states—have created lots of air pollution. Much of it comes from the engines used to pump and compress the oil and gas or from leaks around the wells and pipelines. This air pollution makes skies smoggier, hazier, more toxic to breathe and alters the climate.

In New Mexico, some gas wells produce hydrogen sulfide, which smells like rotten eggs. At low levels, hydrogen sulfide can cause difficulty breathing and headaches. At high levels, it can be lethal.

In western Wyoming and metropolitan Denver, oil and gas drilling is linked to rising smog levels, haze in wilderness areas and national parks, and to climate change.

Earthjustice filed a lawsuit against the Bush administration to force it to update the air pollution regulations with modern, state of the art technology to minimize the pollution. The Obama administration inherited this lawsuit and quickly recognized that Earthjustice was right. So they settled the case and have promised to do a fresh review with an eye towards getting newer, cleaner technology into the field.
 

Greed is usually the reason we see so many companies foul up our lands, air and water. But in Colorado, where a coal mining company is refusing to make money off the gas it is releasing, a little greed could actually help the environment.

For years, coal companies in Colorado's North Fork Valley have been spewing millions of cubic feet of methane into the atmosphere every day from their underground coal mines. They have to get rid of the methane because otherwise it's a safety hazard.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer is known for firing on all cylinders—described by those who know him as having the stamina of the Energizer Bunny. Lately, he's turned his attention to the fact that the gas drilling industry is at New York's doorstep, clamoring for access to underground reserves and demanding the right to blast millions of gallons of chemically-treated water into the earth to extract the gas. We caught up with Borough President Stringer and asked him a few questions about his round-the-clock work on this pressing environmental concern.

This weekend, the kids and I were enjoying the Solano Stroll -- a community parade and street festival in our neck of Northern California -- when, right behind the mayor's convertible, the high school marching band and the stiltwalkers, came a procession of green vehicles: Priuses, Insights, Smart two-seaters, biodiesel buses . . . and then something that looked like a cross between a small airplane and a tricycle.

It's called the Aptera 2e, a three-wheeled, all-electric two-seater made by a SoCal startup company that claims the vehicle can go 100 miles on a single charge.

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unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.