Wyoming recommends Ozone Nonattainment Area to EPA
Seen as tool to fix air quality problems in Pinedale
by Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality
March 13, 2009
(Cheyenne, Wyo.) – Gov. Dave Freudenthal has submitted a recommendation to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that the agency should designate an area in southwest Wyoming as an ozone nonattainment area.
Under the Clean Air Act, EPA is required to place an area in nonattainment status when ozone levels exceed National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS).
"It is unfortunate that we have to make this recommendation, but it is a necessary step," Gov. Freudenthal said. "I also need to make it clear that this federal process is not the only tool we have to fix the air quality problems in Pinedale, and that I have directed the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to use every means possible to ensure we return to clean air as quickly as we can."
The Governor said the State of Wyoming has moved aggressively in response to the air quality challenges. "We have not waited for the federal declaration of nonattainment to solve our air pollution problems," he said, "and I do not want a nonattainment designation by EPA to penalize the State for instituting early emission reductions.
"I understand that a nonattainment designation includes requirements to reduce air pollution from existing sources," the Governor continued. "Many local gas producers, working in cooperation with our DEQ, have aggressively reduced air emissions, and those reductions will continue even as our natural gas resources continue to be developed. These air emission reductions have occurred because of the application of Wyoming’s stringent air pollution permitting requirements; because of industry response to our calls for voluntary emission reductions; and because of Wyoming’s insistence on stringent air pollution mitigation requirements in the Jonah Infill and Pinedale Anticline Records of Decision."
According to Dave Finley, administrator of DEQ’s Air Quality Division (AQD), DEQ first observed elevated ozone at the Boulder monitor in the winter of 2005, they began researching the uncommon phenomenon of ozone formation during winter conditions.
"AQD has conducted three intensive air quality monitoring studies in the area, during the winters of 2007, 2008, and 2009," said Finley. "These studies have given us a good understanding of the factors that allow ozone formation during winter conditions, and this original research has dispelled the conventional belief that ozone is only a summertime pollutant."
Finley added that the research has also allowed AQD to carefully define the recommended nonattainment boundary such that all contributing air pollution sources around the Boulder monitor are included in the recommended nonattainment area.
AQD research on unique conditions present during winter ozone formation in a rural area was used during determination of the boundary.
Following a formal nonattainment designation, Wyoming will be required to develop a state implementation plan which contains state commitments to return the area to attainment status.
"Any state plan we develop will meet our obligations under the Clean Air Act, and will contain a series of air pollution control requirements which are needed to return the area to compliance with the new national ozone standard," said Finley. "The plan will be subject to public review, and we anticipate having several opportunities for local officials, industry, and residents of the area to provide input as the plan is developed."
Wyoming’s State Legislature has appropriated $1.5 million to the DEQ to address the ozone problem in southwest Wyoming.