In recent years, hydrocarbon emissions from oil and natural gas (ONG) industries has been an area of extensive research in an effort to reduce air quality impacts from ONG fugitive emissions. In particular, the Northern Front Range Metropolitan Area (NFRMA) in Colorado, an area with extensive ONG infrastructure, has been designated as an area of ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standard (NAAQS) non-attainment area. There are various factors, from multiple pollution sources to the local meteorology, which exacerbate ozone pollution events in the NFRMA.
The Front Range Air Pollution and Photochemistry Experiment (FRAPPÉ) field campaign was designed to answer the scientific question: “What are the factors controlling NFRMA surface ozone and are current emission controls sufficient to reduce ozone levels below the NAAQS?” This campaign took place from 26 July – 17 August, 2014, and consisted of a network of ground and aircraft measurements. Flight plans and sampling were designed to measure background conditions, source specific emissions, and meteorological effects by assessing local and regional photochemistry. The project aimed to create a comprehensive data set that will be used to elucidate the complex mechanisms that lead to enhanced ozone production.
Specifically, this work characterized emissions from the NFRMA and the Colorado western slope, and determined emissions from the ONG industry are the dominant source of hydrocarbons throughout the study area. Furthermore, from the examination of local meteorology events and spatial hydrocarbon distribution, it was determined that ozone pollution events in the NFRMA are a result of both local emissions and long-range transport.
In response to the posed question, despite strict emission controls in Colorado, emissions from the ONG industry are still pervasive throughout the research study area. To improve local air quality and achieve NAAQS ozone attainment, the effect of local meteorology needs to be strongly considered in future emission standards.