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Clean air is rare, even in rural West

Allen BestSpecial to the DailyVail, CO Colorado

PINEDALE, Wyo. People want to move to rural areas, because the air quality is good. But the tide of news stories suggests that air quality, because of natural gas wells and gold mines, can be bad even in rural areas.The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports that an air quality warning was issued in Sublette County, about 80 miles south, site of the Jonah and Pinedale Anticline oil and natural gas fields. Children, the elderly and people with respiratory problems were advised to stay indoors because of the ozone pollution.Ozone pollution has also been a problem in the hot-spots for natural gas drilling in the Colorado. One of those gas fields is located west of Glenwood Springs. The Rocky Mountain News notes that those high ozone levels are partly to blame for high ozone levels in Denver. Between the two are many of Colorados ski areas.In Idaho, the issue is mercury. Ketchums Idaho Mountain Express suggests mercury contamination of a local waterway, Silver Creek, from a mine several hundred miles south in Nevada. The Jerritt Canyon Mine has operated for 20 years, and during that time mercury emissions have exceeded 10,000 pounds per year, according to the Idaho Conservation League, as compared to 125 pounds of mercury per year from an average-sized coal mine.Unlike other gold mines, the Jerritt Canyon Mine uses ore roasters to superheat gold-bearing ore to several thousand degrees. In the process, mercury that occurs naturally in the rock is converted from its normal liquid state into vapor, and becomes airborne. The prevailing winds in that area carry the mercury vapor northward into Idaho.

BANFF, Alberta The composting program in Banff is being proclaimed a success, with interest growing in the Bow River Valley.In Banff, about half the trash is food waste. Of that food waste, nearly 70 percent can be composted. Not all restaurants are participating, but seven are, using dedicated bins that are then collected by the towns garbage crews, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook.

WHISTLER, B.C. – City officials are proposing restrictions on the types of refrigerators, air conditioners and ice-making machines that are used in Whistler. The primary intent is to reduce the amount of drinking water used for such purposes, an estimated 14 percent of the citys water supply.Instead of water, the proposed law would require new such appliances to use air-based heating mechanisms. Those newer models are said to be both more efficient and, hence, cheaper to operate.However, restaurateurs said they had not been consulted and were leery about the unintended consequences. The proposal was withdrawn pending greater consultation, reports Pique newsmagazine.


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