Statement on Winter Ozone Levels in the Upper Green River Basin

Air Quality Division
Published: March 9, 2017

The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) shares your concern and continue our commitment to achieve clean air consistent with the ozone standard.  This season, the Upper Green River Basin experienced record levels of snow.  We have consistently said that a challenging winter was needed in order to evaluate the work we have done.  We have had that winter.  While ozone levels are down when compared to previous winter ozone exceedance seasons, they are not yet down to the levels we collectively strive to achieve.  We – Government, Industry, and the Public – have worked hard and made significant progress but we are not yet there.  While we have significantly reduced Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) emissions from a variety of sources, it is clear that we have more to do to achieve our ultimate goal.

As we step back and look at this from other viewpoints, we agree that it would be beneficial and helpful to the public if we provided a summary of preliminary ozone levels.  We will send out this summary update the day after an Ozone Action Day, using the same notification system and process that we use to issue an Action Day.  We will also post the information on our website. 

When the Division issues an Ozone Action Day, a phone notification is sent to all Ozone Contingency Plan Participants; an email is sent to everyone that has subscribed to the email notification system; the information is posted on DEQ’s website at http://deq.wyoming.gov/aqd/public-notices/air-quality-winter-ozone/; and a recorded message is available at 1-888-WYO-WDEQ.  We will use this same mechanism to provide a summary update the day after an Ozone Action Day.

This season, Ozone Contingency Plan Participants include governmental entities, oil and gas companies, service companies, and non-oil and gas companies.  On Ozone Action Days, participants have taken a variety of actions including cancelling well venting; utilizing leak detection techniques to prevent/fix gas venting; monitoring for combustor failures or reboiler alarms; postponing maintenance activities; cancelling swabbing, construction and welding activities; deferring/postponing liquid hauling; postponing drill rig testing; cancelling heavy truck delivery; minimizing vehicle and engine idling associated with energy recovery and production; deferring plowing; minimizing vehicle traffic and miles traveled; limiting snowmobile ranger travel distance; deferring refueling operations; avoiding overfilling gas tanks; tightening fuel caps; reducing driving speed; tuning up vehicles; proper tire inflation; cancelling or reduced work related travel; carpooling to and from work; teleconferencing and teleworking; and notifying personnel, staff, and contractors.

In addition, we have implemented controls consistent with the Ozone Strategy and recommendations from the Upper Green River Basin Task Force.  Specifically, the control and Leak Detection and Repair Protocol requirements from the State’s Existing Source rule became effective on January 1, 2017.  Under this rule, affected facilities and sources must control emissions at certain thresholds and conduct quarterly leak inspections, with the first inspection occurring by March 31, 2017.  The Division has also conducted inspections of oil and gas production sites, and conducted other activities such as reviewing stack test emissions, ambient monitoring, forecasting, and participation in Ozone Advance, to name a few.  Other activities that are underway but not yet completed include the Commercial Oilfield Waste Disposal Ponds study.  Specifically for this season, we have revised our notification messaging, adjusted forecasting schedule based on observed conditions, additional field data collection, conducted field observations on and compiled event summaries for Ozone Action Days, and addressed questions and concerns from interested persons.

We remain committed to diligently working with the public, industry, and other governmental entities to tackle this complex issue and reduce ozone levels and exceedances in the Upper Green River Basin.  We look forward to a continued dialog with all interested parties in tackling this complex issue.  This remains one of the highest priorities of the agency to achieve our shared goal of clean air consistent with the ozone standard.

Nancy Vehr- DEQ Air Quality Administrator

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For more information about Winter Ozone, please visit our website at http://deq.wyoming.gov/aqd/winter-ozone/