The Environmental Defense Fund and Wyoming Outdoor Council praised a series of recent air enforcement actions taken by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality as “an important step forward.”
The DEQ Air Quality Division recently issued a series of violation notices to several oil and gas operators – including BP, Chesapeake, Devon, Encana and Yates Petroleum – citing numerous alleged violations of rules designed to protect human health and air quality.
In the first two months of 2013 DEQ issued 20 notices to oil and gas operators for alleged violations of air emissions rules, as compared to five over the same time period in 2012.
“This is an encouraging sign and an important step forward. It shows that DEQ is holding operators accountable if they fail to follow the law,” said Jon Goldstein, EDF Senior Energy Policy Manager. “With this uptick in enforcement actions, DEQ is sending a clear signal that Wyoming’s air quality is important and must be protected. Follow-through will be needed to ensure violations are met with appropriate penalties and that problems are fixed.”
Violations alleged by DEQ inspectors include failure to control harmful volatile organic compound and other emissions totaling hundreds of tons, failure to comply with equipment testing requirements and failure to apply for and receive required air quality permits. VOCs, along with nitrogen oxides, are the pollutants that can lead to smog and ground-level ozone formation.
“We need to prevent these kinds of harmful emissions if we are going to protect residents and workers from high ozone levels in the Pinedale area and in other regions of the state where oil and gas development is happening,” said Bruce Pendery, an attorney with the Wyoming Outdoor Council. “As we see it, this is one of the key functions of the DEQ: enforcing pollution regulations to protect human health and the environment.”
The notices give the operators ten days to contact DEQ to discuss the violations alleged. Wyoming’s 2013 air enforcement actions are available here.
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