The Environmental Protection Agency is telling the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality that it has to conduct a public hearing about an aquifer exemption request by Linc Energy. Linc is proposing an underground coal gasification project in Campbell County. The coal is in the Wyodak Aquifer, and the exemption would relieve the company from adhering to the strict protections outlined in the Safe Drinking Water Act.
DEQ already approved the aquifer exemption, but it did so without public input, so EPA, which makes the final decision, is calling for a do-over.
Chair of Powder River Basin Resource Council, Gillian Malone, says DEQ did not follow its mission to include all stake holders in their decision making process.
“People that are being impacted by a project such as this, who live in the nearby area, who rely on that aquifer for their farming and ranching, and perhaps even their drinking water, certainly livestock, should have a say in something that’s going to occur near to them,” says Malone.
Wyoming had some underground coal gasification projects in the 1970s that polluted groundwater, but Linc says the technology has improved vastly.
The hearing date has not yet been set.