Emissions from wastewater recycling at oil and gas drilling sites likely contributed to a string of high-ozone events in the winter of 2011 in Wyoming's Upper Green River Basin, according to a study released this week.
U.S. EPA has determined that southwest Wyoming's Upper Green River Basin no longer meets federal ground-level ozone pollution standards, a conclusion that could significantly affect two of the nation's largest oil and natural gas fields.
Earlier this year, the ozone level in Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin spiked beyond Los Angeles’ worst smog day. But neither the governor nor the industry can guarantee enough emissions in the Upper Green River Basin will be cut to result in zero wintertime ozone spikes...
Of the seven major oil and gas EISs now in the works in Wyoming, none have gotten to the “draft” stage. Once a draft is issued, stakeholders can better predict when the process might be completed. But in the early stages of the process, Ulrich said the scope and detail of the analysis seems to have greatly expanded.
“More and more is analyzed under the umbrella of an EIS,” said Ulrich, adding that the analysis includes more air pollutants than before, and more animal species.
In its current rate increase request in Wyoming, Rocky Mountain Power is under scrutiny for having spent hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution controls for its fleet of coal-fired power plants — three of which are in Wyoming. The utility estimates it will spend an additional $1.3 billion over the next 10 years adding pollution controls to its multi-state coal-fleet.
“The cost is approaching the cost of brand new power plants,” said Bob Pomeroy, a Holland & Hart attorney representing Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers. “At some point, you have to ask the question; Do these investments make sense compared to alternatives?”