Ozone Season Opens With Tighter Rules

Wednesday, May 14th 2008, 5:53 pm
By: News On 6

Wednesday was cool and breezy.  That's a good thing for air quality, but soon hot weather will lead to Ozone Alerts.   The News On 6's Emory Bryan reports the alerts are changing this year.

Expect twice as many Ozone Alerts as last year because of new standards.  And, we still might have dirty air because renewable fuel is contributing to the pollution problem.

Driller fans picked up promotional t-shirts at a kick off of Ozone Alert Season.  The effort among the regions governments is to get people thinking about air pollution all summer.

"Try to take your lunch more often, try to combine errands, avoid idling and all the normal things, but you're still going to hear the old normal Ozone Alert call," said Nancy Graham with the Indian Nations Council of Governments (INCOG).

As in years past, there will be Ozone Alerts, but this year they'll come more often because the government has tightened up the standards that define clean air.  A new initiative this year is 50 cent bus rides every Friday instead of on Ozone Alert Days.

"If I know it's going to be every Friday, I can plan, if we get more people to ride for the entire season, I'm better off," said Bill Cartwright of Tulsa Transit.

INCOG's air quality expert says there is one thing is not helping Tulsa's air.  It's the ethanol blended fuel that is saving gasoline, but actually increases pollution.

"If you blend 10% ethanol into the gasoline, you increase the volatility of the gasoline and that increases emissions," said INCOG's Nancy Graham.

The pure gasoline some stations sell costs a little more, but it burns cleaner, according to Graham.

Regardless of the ethanol content, all Tulsa area stations will continue selling a lower polluting blend during the Ozone Season between June and September.

With the hot days coming, the only way to really reduce pollution from cars, experts say, is to change how you drive or what you drive.  They say a hybrid is still a better choice to improve the air.

INCOG has asked about having less ethanol in the fuel to help the air, but it's required by the Department of Energy.  INCOG is worried that reducing dependence on oil is actually increasing pollution.