Pinedale task force recommends fixes to ozone problem

Sep 21, 2012

A task force in Pinedale has come up with a list of recommendations for how to fix air quality problems in Sublette County.

The area violates federal air quality standards because oil and gas production have led to high levels of ozone, or smog, in recent years. So at the suggestion of Gov. Matt Mead, a group of citizens, industry reps and local leaders got together to come up with a solution.

They released their recommendations this week after eight months of meetings. Among other things, they want older oil and gas equipment to be retrofitted with greener technologies, to limit emissions.

“There’s a lot of really old fields – stuff that was drilled in the 70s and 80s,” said task force member Isabel Rucker, a Pinedale resident. “A lot of the equipment from those operations isn’t under the same regulations as stuff that’s being put in today.”

The Department of Environmental Quality has been encouraging companies to retrofit grandfathered equipment, but so far they haven’t required it.

The DEQ’s John Corra says the message from the task force is clear.

“There definitely was a tone in the working group that more mandatory kinds of things would be better,” Corra said.

The task force also recommends coming up with better leak detection standards, and they want DEQ to monitor air quality more rigorously.

Corra says the agency will take a serious look at the recommendations and will come up with a plan over the next few months.