Fighting for Cleaner Air in Utah’s Uinta Basin

Oil and gas drilling is booming in Utah’s Uinta Basin—and so is smog pollution. Earthjustice is working with local groups in a suit that challenges EPA’s failure to protect the region from an escalating public health crisis.

Case Overview

The American Lung Association recently delivered an ominous message to residents of Utah’s Uinta Basin in its 2013 State of the Air report: “The air you breathe may put your health at risk.” Expanding oil and gas operations in the region have contributed significantly to skyrocketing levels of ozone (a.k.a. smog) pollution in recent years. During these high ozone episodes, the air quality in this rural area is worse than in some of the nation’s biggest cities.

In the first three months of 2013, the Uinta Basin suffered 43 days when pollution levels exceeded federal safety thresholds. On several occasions it reached near-emergency levels. At-risk residents were urged to avoid exposure to the air pollution by remaining inside although they live in a region known for wide open spaces and an outdoor-oriented lifestyle.

To protect the health of residents of this region, Earthjustice and a coalition of local groups are suing the EPA to take immediate action to address the escalating dangers in Uinta Basin.

Uinta Basin in northeast Utah suffers from dangerously high levels of smog pollution.
Uinta Basin in northeast Utah suffers from dangerously high levels of smog pollution. (Photo courtesy of Jared Hargrave)

Case Updates

Drilling in the Uinta Basin near the town of Ouray.
November 13, 2014 Article

Un-Fracking Believable: Smog in the Rural West

The people living in the Uinta Basin in eastern Utah are the unwitting participants in a massive scientific experiment whereby they're exposed to unhealthy levels of smog pollution.

September 17, 2013 Press Release

Groups Fight for Cleaner Air in Utah's Uinta Basin

Public health at risk from EPA’s failure to rein in ground-level ozone, booming energy industry

September 17, 2013 document

Uinta Basin Opening Brief