L.A.-Style pollution in Greater Yellowstone?

This winter, Sublette County, Wyo., registered ozone levels equal to those experienced on bad air pollution days in the summer in Los Angeles.

Large-scale natural gas drilling operations in the county are to blame, and now, headlines in LA have Sublette County residents thinking: “We already have that city’s smog problem. Do we want its water pollution problems too?”

A recent story in the LA Times reported on the discovery of the “gooey remnants of an oil spill” in a tributary of southern California’s Rio Hondo River. Now, Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP) is under investigation by the California Fish and Game Department for potentially violating the state’s water quality laws.

PXP is the company that hopes to drill 136 natural gas wells in Sublette County’s Upper Hoback Basin. The threat of an industrialized drilling operation in this pristine area was enough to earn the Hoback River a spot on American Rivers’ 2011 Most Endangered Rivers List.