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.
Once again, Sinclair Oil has agreed to pay a penalty for violating the Clean Air Act at its refinery near Rawlins. The latest fine is for $378,000.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s David Cobb says the company didn’t have proper procedures in place to prevent the release of hazardous chemicals, and that chemicals were released on several occasions in the past few years. Cobb says violations like this can be dangerous.
The U.S. Geological Survey has released new data about groundwater testing near Pavillion. The testing was meant to provide additional information about whether hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, caused water contamination there.
Keith Guille with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality says no one quite knows what the results mean yet, because the USGS only provided raw numbers, not analysis.
The energy company Kinder Morgan is paying a $316,000 penalty for violating Clean Air Act regulations at natural gas plants in Casper and Douglas.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the violations centered around improper handling of chemicals. The agency’s David Cobb says the company wasnot adequately testing its equipment and didn’t have proper operating procedures in place to prevent releases of chemicals. He says those violations had the potential to cause problems.
The Republican Governors Association has released an “Energy Blueprint for America,” which outlines recommendations for a federal energy policy.
The document calls for developing new energy partnerships with Canada and Mexico, approving the Keystone XL oil Pipeline, reducing EPA regulations regarding oil and gas production, and making it easier to use public lands for energy development.
Gov. Matt Mead says those measures would help encourage energy production of all kinds.
Sinclair Oil has agreed to pay a fine of $3.8 million and install pollution controls at its refineries in Casper and Rawlins, to settle a lawsuit that the Environmental Protection Agency filed.
The EPA says the refineries exceeded federal limits on various emissions.
Sheldon Muller, a lawyer with the EPA, says the Casper refinery will have to install equipment to reduce nitrous oxide emissions by 50 percent, and the Rawlins plant has make changes to its flare gas recovery system, in order to limit sulfur dioxide emissions.
A Bush administration official has been speaking to members of the media this week about his concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency is overstepping its bounds. Bud Albright is the former undersecretary for the Department of Energy. Albright’s main point is that the EPA is unfairly making it difficult for energy companies to operate. He says they are unfairly impacting the energy market. He speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck.
The former Undersecretary at the Department of Energy says new environmental guidelines are undermining jobs and the country’s energy security.
Bud Albright served under the George W. Bush administration and is speaking out against the Environmental Protection Agency, which he says is unfairly driving the energy marketplace by over regulating.
“They have become the lord overseer of the markets, of what America will develop, how we will develop them and it has thoroughly disadvantaged America…not just in the world market, but in our own economies. ”
An attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council is disappointed that a number of states and industry officials are working hard to overturn the new Environmental Protection Agency standards dealing with air pollution from power plants.
Bruce Pendry is reacting to reports that more than 130 coal companies, electric utilities, trade associations and states are suing the EPA in federal court to remove the health standards.
Wyoming Republican Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso are disappointed after a failed attempt to block the Environmental Protection Agency from setting the first federal standards to reduce toxic air pollution from power plants.
The Democrat-controlled Senate defeated the Republican effort today/Wednesday to overturn a regulation to slash mercury and other toxic emissions from the oldest and most polluting oil- and coal-fired power plants in the country.
The Environmental Protection Agency will require pollution controls be improved at the Jim Bridger plant near Rock Springs and the Dave Johnson plant near Glenrock, but some don’t think the requirements go far enough. The changes are part of the E-P-A’s regional haze plan for Wyoming.
A group of Pavillion residents says Wyoming officials betrayed them by delaying the release of information tentatively connecting hydraulic fracturing with groundwater pollution in the area.
An Associated Press investigation shows that Gov. Matt Mead convinced the Environmental Protection Agency to delay its draft report on the contamination by a full month. Mead and other state officials used the extra time to try and debunk the findings before they could harm the oil and gas industries.
The Environmental Protection Agency is expected to release some new air pollution regulations surrounding natural gas development. Earthjustice Attorney Robin Cooley saysit’s been 25 years since the E-P-A last evaluated standards and the new ones are overdue. She says the industry is much different than it used to be.
"We know that the current rules are inadequate. They don't protect public health. The pollution problems are mounting by the day and expanding into new areas."
This week, the Obama administration announced new regulations for carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants.
When the Environmental Protection Agency determined that carbon dioxide emissions were endangering the public in 2009, Ron Surdam, Director of the Carbon Management Institute at the University of Wyoming, says he saw the writing on the wall: there would be a cap on new power plant emissions, which is exactly what the EPA announced this week.
State, tribal and federal officials have agreed to work collaboratively in Pavillion to do further sampling and collect more data in their water monitoring wells. The move is expected to push back a final report on a possible link between water contamination and hydraulic fracturing in the area until later this year.
In the wake of a congressional hearing over a draft report by the Environmental Protection Agency that links hydraulic fracturing with water contamination in the town of Pavillion, the Wind River Tribes are pushing to take a bigger role in the investigation.
Members of the U.S. House Energy and Environment Subcommittee slammed the Environmental Protection Agency during a hearing about the agency’s ground water research in the town of Pavillion.
The Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing got off to a late start after “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox was arrested for trying to film the proceedings. Fox has spent considerable time in Pavillion documenting water contamination that may be associated with hydraulic fracturing. An ABC News crew was denied entrance to the hearing.
Tomorrow, the U-S House of Representatives’ Energy and Environment Subcommittee will hear about the Environmental Protection Agency’s ongoing investigation of groundwater contamination in the town of Pavillion. However, Pavillion residents say they were not invited to testify.
In December the EPA released a draft report on its three-year water contamination investigation. It indicated that ground water in Pavillion’s aquifer contains compounds that are “likely associated with gas production practices, including hydraulic fracturing.”
The Environmental Protection Agency announced it is extending the public comment period on the draft Pavillion ground water investigation to March 12. It's an attempt to allow all stakeholders and the public additional time to review the report and its related documents. On Tuesday, the EPA invited the public to nominate scientific experts to be peer reviewers of the draft report. Nominations will be accepted through February 17th. In December, Gov.
Encana Oil and Gas says the Environmental Protection Agency is moving too fast with its draft analysis of ground water contamination in the town of Pavillion, and has asked the EPA to suspend the public comment period.
In a letter dated January 6th, Encana oil and gas asked the EPA to suspend the public comment period until the agency’s plans were better explained and additional critical data could be disseminated.
A federal report possibly linking groundwater pollution to hydraulic fracturing in central Wyoming is not discouraging hopes for the Niobrara oil play in the southeast part of the state.
Many are questioning the scientific conclusions of the Environmental Protection Agency findings on the technique to extract oil and gas.
But both EPA and industry representatives say the specific concerns raised in the report are not applicable to southeast Wyoming. That is because the Niobrara formation is geologically much different than the Pavillion area.