Ozone task force members call for more work

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CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - Members of a disbanded task force say Wyoming regulators should do more to fight potential ozone pollution in the Pinedale area by curtailing emissions from mobile gas-drilling rigs and equipment used to complete wells.

State officials say they’re working on new regulations and plan to release them for public review later this year.

The Upper Green River Basin experienced high wintertime ozone between 2008 and 2011. Certain combined weather conditions including snow on the ground and bright sunshine play a significant role in turning emissions related to gas production into ozone pollution.

In 2012, Gov. Matt Mead created a task force to address the problem. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality adopted the recommendations of the Upper Green River Basin Air Quality Citizens Advisory Task Force before the group disbanded last year.

Now, a progress report signed by seven of the group’s 28 members says the state has made progress but can do more, the Casper Star-Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/1kLI6e9 ).

Regulators’ public reporting of air quality data has improved, but efforts to curtail emissions from mobile drilling rigs and equipment used to complete wells have stalled, according to the report.

Those signing the report largely represented environmental groups and citizens concerned about air quality.

Wyoming made progress in establishing a standard for the best available technology needed to detect and repair leaks from oil and gas production facilities, said Bruce Pendery, a Wyoming Outdoor Council staff attorney and former task force member.

However, the new gas development that standard applies to has slowed, he said, and most emissions come from existing facilities.

“To the extent they can move forward on these existing-source regulations, that will really be a strong step forward,” Pendery said.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is moving ahead with new regulations to address emissions from existing equipment, said Steve Dietrich, head of the department’s Air Quality Division.

He said the implementation delay is largely due to process. The rules for new equipment are officially considered guidelines, he said, whereas the rules for existing equipment take longer to develop because they are adopted in the state’s air quality regulations.

“We’re starting to draft that language,” Dietrich said. “I’m hoping sometime this year we can share that with the public.”

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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