Energy Exchange

Selected tag(s): Wyoming

This Is Your Final Warning: Enforcement Needed To Curtail Continued Pollution Problems

Source: Chucker & Reibach

What makes you slow down more, a speeding ticket with a hefty fine or a warning? For most people, getting a ticket for violating the speed limit and having to fork over some cash to pay the fine is a powerful deterrent. In this case, enforcement has done its job. Giving you a penalty for not following the law makes you more careful in the future.

Air pollution rules are no different. Getting the rules right and then following up with strong, fair enforcement actions incentivizes industry to follow them, reduce pollution and clean up our air.

Since 2011, Wyoming environmental regulators have issued an annual study examining air emissions from numerous engines deployed in the state’s oil and gas fields. These engines power things such as compressors used to deliver natural gas to market.

It’s not surprising that the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has singled out these engines for special attention. A 2011 emission inventory for the Upper Green River Basin — a portion of the state that has struggled with ozone problems and is designated a nonattainment area by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for high pollution levels — found these engines to be by far the largest source of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions.

NOx is one of the two air pollutants that lead to harmful ozone, or smog, formation. In fact, the 2011 inventory indicates these engines emitted more than twice the NOx pollution of heaters, the next biggest source in the basin. They accounted for 1,639 of the 4,529 tons, or around 36 percent, of NOx emitted in the basin overall. Read More »

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Clean Air Report Card: CO, WY Counties Get F’s Due To Oil And Gas Pollution

Source: Washington Business Journal

As a parent, I would not be pleased if my kids brought home F’s on their report cards.  Stern talks with my children, frantic phone calls and scheduled meetings with teachers and administrators would ensue.  Plans of action would be crafted.  It would be an urgent wake-up call.

This week, several counties in Colorado and Wyoming brought home poor grades on their clean air report cards.  The American Lung Association examined the levels of damaging ozone pollution in counties in these two western states and several of them are simply not making the grade.

High ozone levels are not new to Colorado.  Like many large metropolitan areas, Denver has struggled with ozone pollution (commonly known as smog) for many years. But historically, such problems have been limited to the summertime and to the Denver metropolitan area. Now unhealthy levels of ozone are becoming a common occurrence year-round and are emerging in rural parts of Colorado and Wyoming.

The culprit?  Air pollution from oil and gas development, which is just one of the environmental risks associated with a booming natural gas industry. Read More »

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A Silk Purse From A Sow’s Ear: Federal Cuts May Spur Environmental And Energy Savings

Holly Pearen, EDF’s Attorney for the Natural Gas Campaign, contributed to this blog post.


The federal government notified 36 states last week that it plans to temporarily stop monthly mineral revenue payments as a part of the mandatory sequestration budget cuts. These cuts will hit western states especially hard with an estimated $26 million cut coming to New Mexico over the next six months, $8.7 million to Utah, $8.4 in Colorado and $5.5 in California, while North Dakota and Montana will see $3.2 and $2.5 million in cuts, respectively, according to data from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue.

However, no state will be hit as hard as mineral resource and federal lands-rich Wyoming, which has been notified to prepare itself to lose $53 million in federal mineral revenue payments through July.

The money is the state’s share of royalties paid by producers who operate on federal leases in Wyoming. Not surprisingly, Wyoming officials are very unhappy with the federal plan, both its details and the way it was announced to the states via letter with little forewarning. As Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said in a statement: “As far as communications go, this method of passing along significant information that greatly impacts Wyoming gets a grade of F minus or worse. It is not acceptable.”

While Governor Mead has vowed to fight the plan and is working with the Wyoming Attorney General, Wyoming’s congressional delegation and neighboring states to come up with a strategy to oppose the cuts, we would like to offer a suggestion. Perhaps Interior should make up the shortfall owed to the states by charging royalties on vented and flared natural gas? Read More »

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New BLM Proposals For Large Oil And Gas Fields Ignite Wyoming Air Quality Concerns

Wyoming is already one of the country’s top natural gas producers. And large new developments under review by the

Source: Anne Nowell

U.S. Bureau of Land Management totaling more than 25,000 new wells in the coming years could further solidify Wyoming’s status as a national energy leader.

But what will this leadership look like? Will this series of development projects lead to worsening air quality or set an example for safe, responsible development?

The first of these, the Continental Divide – Creston Project, is alone one of the largest onshore natural gas developments ever proposed on federal lands in the United States. This enormous development slated for the Wamsutter area of south-central Wyoming, includes drilling nearly 9,000 new natural gas wells across 1,672 square miles (or 1.1 million acres) of public and private lands — an area a bit larger than the state of Rhode Island. The well-known Jonah Field in western Wyoming, by comparison, covers about 21,000 acres and includes about 3,500 wells.

The scale, concentration and vicinity of new wells proposed by the CD-C project are fueling concern for regional air quality issues. If managed improperly, this project could lead to more unhealthy air for local residents and workers.

Unhealthy air, as a result of oil and gas development, has been a particular issue in Pinedale, a community just northwest of the CD-C proposal in Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin. The past few winters have earned the area unwanted national attention for its U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nonattainment designation for ground-level ozone pollution — one of the first non-urban areas to report such high levels of smog. Read More »

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