« Return to this article

for people who care about the West

Latest: New air quality regulation for oil and gas operators

Wyoming will require companies to retrofit equipment

 

BACKSTORY
For years, the smog over Sublette County, Wyoming, has symbolized the impacts of the West’s oil and gas boom. It’s caused in large part by the thousands of natural gas wells and their accompanying infrastructure, but pipeline leaks, dirty pump engines and a thousand other sources have proven difficult for regulators to tackle (“Oil and gas drilling clouds the West’s air,” HCN, 10/31/05). By 2008, ozone levels in the area had outstripped federally mandated limits.

FOLLOWUP
Although ozone pollution has been declining since 2008’s peak, Wyoming decided to take stronger action to prevent future spikes. On May 19, the state’s Environmental Quality Council approved a new rule requiring operators to retrofit their equipment and follow tight guidelines on any new construction. Just two other oil- and gas-producing states have similar regulations: Colorado and California. But environmental groups say the rule doesn’t go far enough; it applies only to the Upper Green River Basin, and they say it should apply to the entire state.