USU teaming up with the BLM to study winter air pollution in the Uinta Basin

LOGAN – Utah State University’s Bingham Entrepreneurship and Energy Research Center and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have teamed up to better understand winter air pollution in the Uinta Basin. The BLM has contributed about a million dollars worth of independent data to be added to the research collected by USU scientists. They will then be able to create a new model to show winter air quality trends that could then be used to help create an air resource management strategy.

The BLM has worked with the center previously in different areas such as wildlife issues, so when the opportunity came for USU to work with the BLM again, they jumped on it.

USU vice president for commercialization and regional development Rob Behunin explained, “[As far as] who approached whom, we were all at the dance and got on each other’s dance cards so to speak, so it was more of collaborative approach because we are always doing so much with the energy industry and the BLM anyway so it was kind of a natural outcropping.”

Previous to this work, models had been created regarding summer ozone levels in big cities such as Los Angeles, New York City, and Salt Lake City. However, with differing geology, geography, and weather pattern, comparing these models to winter ozone levels are like comparing apples to oranges.

With these new models, not only will we better understand and strategize for prevention, but it will also allow the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) a better and fairer understanding on regulation needed for this area.

Though it is taking place in the Uinta Basin, Behunin hopes that these models can help Cache Valley.

“At some point we would hope that the models we could create, the platforms we created, could help us understand our ozone problems… (and) predict and mitigate. [If] we understand where the dynamic pollutants are then we can better mitigate.”

As studies and finding are brought to conclusions, the center will be releasing their findings to the public.

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