What do you think of the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision that includes Riverton as part of the  Wind River Reservation?

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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.

Wind River Reservation

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.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its final version of a plan to reduce atmospheric haze by cutting emissions from coal-fired power plants in Wyoming.

EPA officials say the plan will improve visibility across wide-open spaces while protecting natural resources and local economies which depend on recreation.

They say the 714-page document adopts most of a separate plan proposed by Wyoming environmental regulators.

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.

Elizabeth Shogren/NPR

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 leaders say the state's energy-based economy is suffering under recent Obama administration environmental initiatives.

Republican Gov. Matt Mead plans to testify next week in Cheyenne against a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposal to restrict emissions from coal-fired power plants.

Mead says the rule will cost Wyoming's five coal-fired power plants about $1 billion initially and perhaps $100 million a year thereafter. He says implementing the regulations won't affect haze.

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.            

Study outlines risks of injecting waste into aquifer

Jun 27, 2013

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.

Environmental groups say they’re disappointed that the Environmental Protection Agency has handed over control of the Pavillion water quality study to the state.

In 2011, the EPA issued a draft report tentatively linking groundwater contamination to fracking around Pavillion. Yesterday, the agency announced that it will not finalize that report.

Richard Garrett with the Wyoming Outdoors Council says he’s unhappy with EPA’s decision.

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.

The Environmental Protection Agency is abandoning its plan to confirm hydraulic fracturing is linked to groundwater pollution in central Wyoming.

A draft news release obtained today by The Associated Press says the EPA won't have independent scientists review its finding that fracking may have caused the pollution.

EPA spokesman Tom Reynolds in Washington, D.C., confirms the information.

The EPA says it won't finalize its report on the issue. Instead, it will let state officials investigate.

The Environmental Protection Agency is asking for more information from Encana before it okays an aquifer exemption allowing the company to pump waste water into the Madison aquifer near Casper.

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.

Coal is weakening its dominion over the energy market, and according to a presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, new EPA regulations are not to blame.

Wyoming lawmakers including Sen. John Barrasso and Rep. Cynthia Lummis have pointed to what they call President Obama’s war on coal as the reason for declining coal production.

But David Schlissel of the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis -- who led the presentation -- says other factors are responsible.

As winter approaches and temperatures dip, the Environmental Protection Agency is urging people to protect themselves against carbon monoxide poisoning.

Carbon monoxide is colorless, odorless, and tricky to detect. But 400 Americans die from carbon monoxide poisoning each year, and 20,000 more are hospitalized.

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.

Pavillion Working Group Has New Issue To Address

Oct 11, 2012

A working group looking into groundwater contamination near Pavillion is still debating findings of contamination of water wells near the town. 

State officials are still studying the results of a U.S.  Geological Survey test and some possible conflicting information with an Environmental Protection Agency study. 

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. ”