Several years ago, there were days when air pollution in Pinedale was worse than in Los Angeles. Residents complained of respiratory problems, and visits to local medical clinics increased. In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency said the area was violating federal air quality standards, and gave Wyoming three years to fix the problem. Since then, air quality has been better. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports, nobody knows whether the problem is really fixed, and some worry that the state is not doing enough to prevent similar problems from happening elsewhere.
Rural states are bristling over proposed regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency to reduce emissions from wood stoves.
Currently, wood stove manufacturers must keep emissions down to 7.5 grams of particulates per hour. But the proposed rules would reduce the allowable amount to less than two grams over the next five years. Soot emissions are a serious public health concern in some areas of the country because they can cause lung problems and heart attacks.
A bill that would expand Wyoming's ability to fight the Environmental Protection Agency in court received initial approval in the state House of Representatives.
The bill gives the Wyoming Attorney General's Office over two million dollars to fight back against EPA policies that the state deems unacceptable. The state is already engaged in a number of lawsuits against the agency.
About three-quarters of the streams in Wyoming could soon be subject to less stringent environmental standards.
The streams are currently classified as “primary contact” water bodies, meaning that people swim or otherwise recreate in them. Now, the Department of Environmental Quality is proposing to designate them as “secondary contact” streams, meaning human contact is less likely. The change would lower the standards for how much pollution can be discharged into the waterways.
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.
The Northern Arapaho Tribe is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reject a request from the state of Wyoming to halt implementation of the agency's decision that over 1 million acres around Riverton remains legally Indian Country.
Lawyers for the tribe wrote to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy this week urging her to reject the request the state submitted earlier this month.
Agreement over the boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation seems to be a long way off between the state’s tribes and Governor Matt Mead.
The dispute is over an Environmental Protection Agency ruling that the city of Riverton falls on tribal land. In a letter to the governor Wednesday, the Northern Arapaho tribe says it was surprised by the governor’s reaction to the EPA ruling. They say in the past, the state has actively promoted the idea of giving the tribes Treatment as a State status and allowing the EPA to settle the 1905 Act boundary dispute, once and for all.
Almost five years ago, the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes submitted an application to the federal government asking for the Wind River Indian Reservation to be treated as a separate state for monitoring air quality. They're still waiting on a response.
Eastern Shoshone tribe chairman Darwin St. Clair says it’s a matter of tribal sovereignty as well as stewardship of their land. He says with a coal power plant and oil and gas fields nearby, air quality is a high priority.
A project that proposes setting fire to deep coal seams in order to produce fuel is moving forward. At a hearing last week, the Environmental Quality Council rejected arguments that Linc Energy’s proposed underground coal gasification project would contaminate drinking water supplies in Campbell County. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, concerns linger about the safety of the technology.
The comment period closed Monday on the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Regional Haze Plan. The plan seeks to address the issue of air pollution produced by coal fired power plants. Wyoming put together its own regional haze program, but the EPA rejected parts of it, saying it wasn't strong enough, particularly when it came to nitrogen oxide emissions at four plants.
Dirty water from the oil wells flows through oil-caked pipes into a settling pit where trucks vacuum off the oil. A net covers the pit to keep out birds and other wildlife. Streams of this wastewater flow through the reservation and join natural creeks and rivers.
The Environmental Protection Agency is taking public comments on the extension of several water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation.
The EPA is looking at renewing existing permits that allow companies to pump waste water from oil and gas fields to the surface on the Reservation. The produced water exemption allows this practice only in the arid West. In general, state agencies have tighter regulations than the EPA about what can be pumped to the surface, but tribal land is under the EPA’s jurisdiction.
Wyoming’s Governor says the state will work hard to find out what contaminated water in Pavillion , and will develop a long term solution to the water woes for residents in the area.
Last month the E-P-A announced it was relinquishing its role in a study that had tentatively linked hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution. Landowners are upset with that the fact that the state will now handle the investigation. Governor Matt Mead says the E-P-A was taking too long.
A study found that if wastewater were injected into a deep portion of the Madison Aquifer, it could potentially contaminate drinking water supplies in other areas.
Encana Oil and Gas has asked for permission to dispose of brine and drilling waste in the aquifer. The company says it would inject the waste into an area where water quality is already poor and which is so deep that it would be an impractical source for drinking water, regardless.
Landowners in Wyoming are upset that the Environmental Protection Agency is relinquishing its role in a study that could link hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution.
The State of Wyoming is taking over an investigation of water quality in Pavillion, from the EPA. Encana Oil and Gas has natural gas wells in the area…and the EPA started testing water wells there after residents complained that the water was becoming polluted. The agency released a draft report in 2011, which tentatively linked the contamination to fracking.
Wyoming Republican lawmakers are up in arms over efforts by the Obama Administration to regulate carbon emissions through the Executive Branch. Matt Laslo reports from Washington on the energy debate that’s boiling on Capitol Hill.
An ethanol plant in Torrington has agreed to pay $49,000 in fines for violations regarding hazardous chemicals.
David Cobb with the Environmental Protection Agency says Wyoming Ethanol did not tell the public it was using large quantities of ammonia, and did not have adequate risk management plans for handling flammable mixtures. Both are violations of federal law.
Cobb says the chemicals in question are dangerous.
President Obama today announced his nomination for an Environmental Protection Agency administrator. President Obama’s pick, Gina McCarthy, is currently an assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation.
McCarthy has been said to work well with industry while being an aggressive regulator. She helped create rules to curb mercury and soot emissions from power plants during President Obama’s first term.
The EPA issues water discharge permits on the Wind River Indian Reservation to oil and gas companies bringing up water with their oil.
That water, called produced water, is dirty and often warm even in winter. The permits are issued through an EPA waiver that allows such water to be discharged in the arid West if it’s being used beneficially. In the drier parts of Wyoming it is sometimes the only source of water for livestock and wildlife.