From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 26 - September 23, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

County contests DEQ jurisdiction

by Cat Urbigkit

Tony Hoyt of the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality spoke with Sublette County Commissioners last week about complaints of the amount of dust being kicked up by trucks hauling gravel from the Eric Fairbanks/Mark Jones gravel pit near Boulder.

Hoyt said in response to complaints from a homeowner along the county road near the pit, he had requested that Fairbanks apply dust abatement measures on a stretch of county road near the residence.

One provision of the air quality permit held by Fairbanks for the gravel pit requires that all unpaved portions of haul roads be treated with water in a manner sufficient to control fugitive dust.

Hoyt maintained that the permit provision applies to any road associated with hauling, but that didn't sit well with the county commission.

Commission Chairman Gordon Johnston told Hoyt: "I have a hard time with DEQ setting down rules and regulations for county roads. We are the ones who do that."

Johnston said that the DEQ was involving itself in a manner that is within the jurisdiction of the county, not the state.

"I'm a county commissioner who decides what will be done to the county roads in the county," Johnston said, to which Hoyt responded, "Okay." Hoyt added that DEQ would look at some sort of enforcement action on this issue in response to citizen complaints.

Johnston said, "If you live out West, there is going to be dust on the roads."

Commissioner Betty Fear noted that it was the complaints of one resident that got DEQ involved. She suggested that there could be thousands of similar situations in this county where people could complain about dust on roads, but Hoyt said the distinction comes because gravel pits must have air-quality permits from DEQ.

Johnston said he understands that the DEQ regulations would apply on the private haul road from the pit to the county road, but "there, in my view, it stops - when it gets to a county road."

Commissioner Bill Cramer said he doesn't believe the permit provision cited by Hoyt applies to the county road.

"If there is some rule, regulation regarding dust on a county road ... and needs to be enforced against the county, I guess that's a separate issue," Cramer said.

Cramer added, "I do not think we need to be imposing that condition on these people to apply dust suppressant to the county road."

All three commissioners were in agreement that DEQ doesn't have authority under the permit terms to require work to occur on a county road, which is more property under the county's jurisdiction.

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