The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is drafting rules to curb emissions near Pinedale, but the agency says there are some limitations to what they’ll be able to do.
The Pinedale area violates federal air quality standards because of pollution from natural gas development. DEQ has already imposed stricter rules on new energy equipment, and now they plan to limit emissions from older, grandfathered facilities, as well. But spokesman Keith Guille says they aren't able to regulate everything.
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.
Energy companies operating near Pinedale will soon have to retrofit their older equipment to curb emissions.
Natural gas development in the Pinedale Anticline gas field has caused air pollution, to the extent that the area violates federal air quality standards. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has already imposed limits on emissions from new equipment. But until now, older equipment that was already in place was exempt from those standards. DEQ Air Quality Administrator Steve Dietrich says that needs to change.
Ozone forecasting in Sublette County will begin again in January. Ozone is a hazardous gas that’s formed under certain conditions by the combination of volatile organic compounds and nitrous oxides. In recent years Sublette County has seen spikes in ozone during wintertime, particularly on days with no wind, lots of sunlight and snow on the ground.
A study by the Wyoming Department of Health found that ozone in Sublette County causes and exacerbates health problems.
Ground-level ozone is a type of pollution, and in Sublette County, it’s caused by emissions from the oil and gas industry. The report found that as ozone levels increased, more people went to local health clinics with respiratory complaints.
Kerry Pride with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says other studies have shown the same thing, but this is the first time they’ve done a research specific to Sublette County.
Tomorrow, the Department of Environmental Quality will announce how it plans to fix air quality problems near Pinedale.
Emissions from oil and gas development in Sublette County have caused ozone, or smog, to form at levels that exceed federal limits. Last year, a community task force recommended possible solutions. They called for tougher regulations on industry and more rigorous air quality monitoring, among other things.
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.