Uintah Basin

Utah Department of Environmental Quality

    

Regulators are relying on a growing body of scientific information to craft better pollution controls for the energy industry. They’re drawing on some of the results that scientists have gathered on the Uinta Basin’s ozone pollution problem.

Erik Crosman / University of Utah

Utah’s winter pollution season officially gets underway this weekend, and thanks to $1 million from the Legislature, new research is focusing on what causes the state’s air-quality problems and how to solve them.

A dozen studies will look hard at what makes sooty winter pollution so nasty in Utah and why ground level ozone gets so high. They also will zero in on air chemistry and the weather’s role.

Dan Bammes

  A complex court case involving winter ozone pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin came before an appeals court in Washington DC Tuesday morning.  The central question is how much federal regulators need to know before they can act to control pollution.

Back in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency decided the winter ozone problem in the Uintah Basin was “unclassifiable,” and it decided not to designate it as a non-attainment area for federal ozone standards.  Environmental groups sued, arguing the EPA had all the information it needed to act.

Dan Bammes

 The Utah Division of Air Quality has just released the third in a series of studies on the winter ozone problem in the Uintah Basin.

Dan Bammes

Last week, the Bill Barrett Corporation sold its natural gas properties in the West Tavaputs Plateau of eastern Utah for more than 300-million dollars. 

The deal was announced last week, but the buyer wasn’t disclosed.  Filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, though, identify the buyer  as the EnerVest Corporation, based in Houston.  The transaction is valued at 371-million dollars.  EnerVest has drilling operations in Colorado and New Mexico as well as several other states in the South and Midwest.

Dan Bammes

  After a year of studying winter ozone air pollution in Utah’s Uintah Basin, a team of scientists has determined that oil and gas wells are causing most of the problem.  

The team at Utah State University’s Uintah Basin campus studied ozone last winter – when there were only a few inversion days and not much of a problem.  It’s been worse this year, and Seth Lyman with the Bingham Research Center says a big part of the problem is the volatile organic compounds such as benzene coming from thousands of oil and gas wells.

Desolation Canyon
Adam Swisher, National Outdoor Leadership School

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has approved a plan proposed by Gasco to drill 1,300 new oil and gas wells in eastern Utah over the next 15 years.  Some of the wells will be drilled in the Desolation Canyon area near the Green River.  That has environmental groups warning of what they call a "disaster."