DEQ

Wyoming Department of Health

So far this year, the Wyoming Department of Health has issued algae bloom advisories for 16 lakes and reservoirs across the state, a spike that mirrors the record number potentially toxic blooms across the country in 2019, as counted by the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

A gas flare, used to burn off flammable gas -- on Highway 59 from Gillette
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Trump Administration is looking to change Obama-era national air quality standards for the oil and gas industry that limited methane - a pollutant considered the second largest contributor to climate change. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed changes Thursday to the 2016 New Source Performance Standards (NSPS), influenced at the time by Wyoming's regulations.

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Several state departments are warning Wyoming residents about the risks of algal blooms.

Savannah Maher

Earlier this summer, the Northern Arapaho Tribe came out against a proposal by the energy company Aetheon to discharge oilfield waste upstream of the Wind River. But the opposition was not for the reasons that some tribal members would like.

Greg Goebel via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

A proposed expansion of Aethon Energy's Moneta Divide Oilfield could significantly increase the volume of water and dissolved solids the company sends into the Boysen Reservoir near Shoshoni.

Davide Restivo via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

When a semitrailer crashed near Woods Landing earlier this month, it spilled its cargo - water produced during oil and gas extraction - with some of it reaching the nearby Woods Creek.

Screenshot of Environmental Quality Council before hearing Mark Thrall
EQC WEB

Contura Coal West would like to renew and transfer permits for the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines over to another coal company: Blackjewel. In August 2018, Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deemed the permit application technically complete.

Exhibit stamp within the 2016 EQC case
Wyoming Environmental Quality Council

Coal company Ramaco Carbon is a step closer to developing a mine in Sheridan County, which plans to focus on developing coal-based products.

Booms located at the popo agie river to prevent further seepage downstream
Keith Guille / Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Gasoline is spilling into the Popo Agie River in Lander. A citizen reported it to the National Response Center last week. The action prompted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to investigate what happened.

Keith Guille, DEQ spokesman, said the situation is urgent, and "that's why we have staff out there to make sure that we find some conclusions here very quickly to ensure that wherever the spill leak is coming from they get stopped and that everything can move forward here."

WyVisNet

The Upper Green River Basin is home to thousands of oil and gas wells and a cold, snowy winter. Unfortunately, those make up prime conditions for the formation of the pollutant ozone. While the area has struggled to control ozone for years, 2019 saw the highest spikes since 2011.

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.

How ozone is made
American Lung Association

Wyoming's Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) announced an ozone action day in the Upper Green River Basin for March 19. That means ozone, a secondary pollutant that can cause respiratory issues, could exceed the federal limit in the area: Sublette, Lincoln and Sweetwater counties. 

KASL Radio / Flickr

A high level of methane has been detected at a monitoring well in Newcastle. The well is near the city's old landfill that was closed in the 1980s.

Cooper McKim

Snow is falling over a long service road surrounded by prairie. A few small pump jacks eventually give way to an unassuming metal gate. It opens up to Strata Energy and its uranium mine. Inside a simple built office building, Ralph Knode, Strata's CEO, greets me. We walk over to a warehouse.

State Requirements Compared to Components of the 2016 BLM Rule
The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society gave Wyoming a middling grade of 55 percent for its regulation of methane emissions compared to an Obama-era regulation. Wyoming still ranks third best nationally. The environmental group's report looked at nine factors including waste minimization plans, leak detection and repair, and venting prohibitions.

$70 BBL of Oil on Federal Mineral Acreage
Daniel Johnston and Co. Inc.

A new study from consulting firm Daniel Johnston and Company analyzed how Wyoming ranks up to nearby oil-extracting states, plus Texas and Oklahoma, in terms of tax burden and competitiveness. It was presented to the Joint Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee Thursday.

Revised Ramaco application
Liz Brimmer / Ramaco Carbon

Ramaco Carbon has submitted a revised permit to the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The Environmental Quality Council (EQC), an independent review board, refused the company’s first permit last year to begin constructing the Brook Mine in Sheridan County. 

Cooper McKim

Dave Hohl is a long-time resident of Pinedale, a town surrounded by oil and gas operations in western Wyoming. In 2008, Hohl went cross-country skiing and he noticed a heavy brown haze.

Joint Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Meeting At UW
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is looking for a way to deal with idle limiting mining operations (LMOs). Those are small aggregate, or gravel, pits used by ranches or oil companies, among other entities, to build roads.

Federal Register Banner
National Archives and Records Administration

Wyoming has taken a step towards complete responsibility for the handling of radioactive materials involved in uranium operations. It's been a shared duty, with Wyoming covering the mining operations, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) taking over once the product entered processing. Ryan Schierman, Uranium Recovery Program Manager for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, said that caused discontent within the uranium industry. He’s managed the transition process.

Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is helping Wyoming clean up contaminated areas for future redevelopment. Three state and local organizations will split $1.4 million. Wyoming is among 144 grantees in the competitive national process. The EPA gave out over $54 million in total.

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, the City of Douglas, and the Wyoming Business Council will receive the funds. The DEQ and the Business Council are partnering to combine their grants and create a revolving loan for clean-up available to any Wyoming community. 

DEQ's Land Quality Division Advisory Board meeting in Gillette while webcasting in Cheyenne and Jackson members
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

Rules that would have placed limits on self-bonding will be sent back to the Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) Land Quality Division following a meeting of its advisory board Wednesday. Self-bonding is a way for mining companies to guarantee clean-up costs without putting money down.

The foreground is reclaimed mine land, with the active coal mine behind.
Wyoming Mining Assocation

Back in 2011, the coal market looked great. Three of the largest coal companies in the world, all with mines in Wyoming, invested big in metallurgical coal, the kind used for infrastructure. Sierra Club Attorney Peter Morgan said, “Each company took on hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of debt."

DEQ Notice of Public Meeting
Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has released a final rule proposal that would change how coal companies self-bond. That’s when a company uses an IOU to guarantee clean-up costs based on its financial strength. 

Bob Beck

A State Senate Committee voted to unanimously support a bill that will help the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality clean up abandoned contaminated sites in the state. The DEQ has been busy repairing a number of so-called orphan sites around the state where the companies are no longer available to pay for the cleanup.  

Luke Esch of the DEQ says the legislation provides money from an account funded by taxes and fees. 

"Really allows us to get away from general funds and find a sustainable source of funding for these projects."

Several orphan sites listed on the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality online page
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

Factories and dry cleaners used to dump contaminated waste wherever was convenient. Over the past thirty years, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has identified the locations many of these contaminated sites, also known as orphan sites, but the polluting companies are no longer around to pay to clean them up.

Penny Preston

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality held a public meeting in Cody Tuesday to update the public on the operation of the Willwood Dam and efforts to protect the Shoshone River fishery.

 

Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality logo
Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is changing how coal companies secure clean-up costs. For years, the department has accepted a kind of IOU based on a company’s financial strength. That’s called self-bonding.

Issues with self-bonding were highlighted in 2015 when several large coal companies went bankrupt, and were left without funds to cover reclamation costs.

Snake River in the Snake River Canyon of Wyoming near Alpine
Joe Tordiff

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is allowing a reclassification of nearly 80 percent of Wyoming’s waterways as secondary contact recreation. That means those streams are no longer recommended sites for swimming, tubing, fishing, or recreation in general — unlike the primary contact recreation status.

The DEQ’s Lindsey Paterson said these waters don’t make sense for recreation anyway. They’re shallow with little flow and are in remote areas. The change also means those waterways are allowed to hold five times the level of e. coli, an indicator for pathogens. 

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

The Environmental Quality Council, or EQC, will not accept a permit for the proposed Brook Mine. The independent review board is made up of five council members. In a four to one vote, the EQC decided the permit application was incomplete.

The council brought up several deficiencies with the permit application including lack of information on subsidence, the costs of land reclamation, and effects on hydrology. All members agreed Brook Mine LLC should have held sessions for public input before it submitted a permit application. 

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