The Environmental Protection Agency has sent a letter to governor Matt Mead, saying it will be formally listing Sublette County as an area in violation of federal air quality standards.
Over the past several years, emissions from oil and gas development near Pinedale have caused ground-level ozone to form. On some days, the pollution has rivaled that of major cities and has caused respiratory problems for area residents.
Now, the EPA has announced that it will formally designate Sublette County a “non-attainment” area. That means the state will have to come up with a plan to improve the air quality.
"Historically what has happened is EPA gives you a timeline in which to come back into attainment,” said Steve Dietrich, the air quality administrator with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. “We have three years to put together a plan, implement the plan, and then see the results to show that we’re in attainment.”
Dietrich says the EPA is currently tweaking those requirements and will likely inform the state of what it has to do within the next month. He adds that Wyoming has already been encouraging industry to take voluntary measures to curb the emissions that lead to ozone.