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In A Bad Ozone Year, DEQ Considers Additional Inspectors In Upper Green River Basin

DEQ's air quality data at 11:59 am on March 28 for the five monitors in the UGRB
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is strongly considering additional inspectors to work in the Upper Green River Basin (UGRB) - a region in the western mountains. The agency has announced 15 days this year where the pollutant ozone could exceed safe levels for vulnerable populations in the UGRB. Last year, there were zero.

The department attributes the high levels at one of the five monitors in the area to favorable weather conditions like heavy snowpack and little wind.

Two members of DEQ staff are currently responsible for inspecting all oil and gas facilities in the UGRB. Among other responsibilities, they ensure emissions controls are functioning properly. Citizens like Isabel Rucker have said two isn't enough.

"We're very under-supervised. We don't have a ton of DEQ presence here."

Elaine Crumpley, a board member for advocacy group Citizens United for Responsible Energy Development (CURED), agreed with her.

"We need to have more training for inspectors. We need more of them to cover this huge vast area," Crumpley said, adding it's important to make sure companies are in compliance with the law."
Nancy Vehr, Air Quality Division administrator, said she's heard the calls for more resources in the area.

"We heard what people said about having an additional inspector and that is certainly under consideration right now." Vehr said, "as we move forward so do we think having additional resources is beneficial."

Another DEQ spokesman said it's not clear how many could be hired. He said an announcement is likely later this year. Updated air quality statistics can be found here.

Before Wyoming, Cooper McKim has reported for NPR stations in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and South Carolina. He's reported breaking news segments and features for several national NPR news programs. Cooper is the host of the limited podcast series Carbon Valley. Cooper studied Environmental Policy and Music. He's an avid jazz piano player, backpacker, and podcast listener.
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