State Proposes New Limits On Oil And Gas Emissions

Oct 27, 2015

Wyoming is considering new rules designed to cut emissions from oil and gas operations in the state, but neither industry nor environmental and health advocacy groups are happy with them.

The rules would require more emissions controls on tank batteries and during the drilling process, but the proposal doesn’t require companies to look regularly for leaking equipment.

“If you go out and look for them once every couple of years and you find them, they might have been leaking for a couple of years," said Fred Krupp, the head of the Environmental Defense Fund. "If you go out and look for them quarterly, they will only have leaked for some period 90 days or less."

EDF has asked the Wyoming Air Quality Advisory Board to add leak detection to the proposed rule changes. 

Meanwhile, the Petroleum Association of Wyoming is also asking for changes. Although the rule only applies to new and modified wells, vice president John Robitaille says the “modified” provision would affect some existing wells. He says the rules could eliminate the economic case for continuing to operate so-called stripper wells, which produce only small amounts of oil.

“Then those wells will be plugged prematurely and we will be leaving mineral in the ground,” he said. 

The Department of Environmental Quality has said it would like to implement the rules starting in January of 2016.