Converse County is seeing an increasing amount of energy development, and some residents worry that air quality could suffer as a result. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and researchers from the University of Wyoming are now monitoring air quality in the area.
On the whole, they’ve found that the air is pretty clean. But they’ve also documented times when pollution levels have spiked. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
Converse County is one of six counties in Wyoming with no land use regulations. When a proposal to develop zoning came up a decade ago, it went nowhere. But as development associated with the oil and gas boom in the Niobrara explodes, the county is struggling with questions of how to make sure it happens responsibly. And as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, some residents are starting to question the costs of not planning.
Governor Matt Mead says he trusts the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to deliver trustworthy results when it takes over the Pavillion water contamination study from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A draft of the study initiated by the EPA was released in 2011 and tentatively linked groundwater contamination with fracking, something industry expressed skepticism about.
Mead says he’s not sure yet whether the state study will be peer reviewed once it’s completed.
A facility is slated to be built in the town of Fort Laramie that would load oil onto rail cars. Assuming the project gets the necessary permits from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, it’s expected to be completed by the end of the year. Transporting oil by train is becoming increasingly popular, and experts say this facility and others like it will help the energy industry thrive. But local residents fear that a new industrial site could bring problems to their community. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has been running an Engine Emissions Study for almost two years now. For the most part, Wyoming oil and gas fields are not connected to the grid and so they end up running on engines, which emit pollutants into the air. The study set out to evaluate emissions from these generators around the state. Results from the study show that a large percentage of the engines fail the tests. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov spoke with the DEQ Air Quality Engineer in charge of the study, Jon Walker, about why that is.
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.
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has a new director, Todd Parfitt, the agency’s former deputy director. He took over after former director John Corra retired. Parfitt has spent about 20 years with DEQ, and he has also worked for an environmental consulting company in Ohio. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden spoke with Parfitt about his plans for tackling some of the environmental issues facing the state.