From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 7 - May 8, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

CLOUD Seeks ‘Aggressive’ State Stance Toward Industry
Tuesday forum to educate public about local air quality issues
by Joy Ufford

CLOUD, the new citizens’ group with a mission to affect Sublette County’s degraded air quality, is determined to force answers and action from the state toward industry operations.

The group (Citizens learning about Ozone’s Unhealthy Destruction) first wrote Gov. Dave Freudenthal requesting his support for a human-health impact assessment (HIA) to be added to the BLM’s ongoing revised draft environmental impact statement (EIS) pertaining to increased Pinedale Anticline drilling.

They weren’t happy with his response and they are saying so.

CLOUD and other citizens attending an April 21 public meeting sponsored by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ ) were left unsatisfied with what they heard there as well. And again, they are speaking up.

Tuesday evening, CLOUD is sponsoring a public meeting with its own experts making up a panel for discussion, questions and answers about the health impacts of polluted air as a result of drilling in Sublette County.

The forum will be held at the Pinedale Auditorium with Dr. Tom Johnston moderating a panel of four independent experts who will discuss ozone, air pollution, health effects and solutions. A reception begins at 6 p.m. with the panel at 6:30p.m. to be followed by a question and answer period. The forum will be broadcast live on KPIN 101.1 FM for those unable to attend.

Panelists will be environmental health scientist Dr. Theo Colburn, pollution reduction specialist Jeremy Nichols, Powder River Basin Council member Jill Morrison and environmental attorney Mark Sullivan.

“Our purpose for doing the forum is to bring in our own hand-picked independent experts who have no ties to the BLM, the gas industry, state government or the regulatory authorities,” explained CLOUD volunteer Jocelyn Moore. “We wanted people who wouldn’t have a personal agenda or vested interest in what is happening here and can answer our questions without doubts about possible bias for or against gas development taking place here.”

CLOUD chides agencies

In an April 30 follow-up letter to Gov. Freudenthal, Wyoming DEQ, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), BLM and Wyoming’s elected officials, the citizens’ group stated its members are “extremely disappointed” to have not yet received answers to its March 22 letter requesting inclusion of a comprehensive health impact assessment.

“Over a month has passed and we still have not received a substantive reply from all of those to whom we sent the letter,” it says. “We are extremely disappointed that we have not heard back and can only assume it is because some do not care about or understand our concerns.”

The second letter, signed by more than 38 CLOUD members, states many citizens came away from the Wyoming DEQ April 21 “unsatisfied because many of our concerns had not been adequately addressed.”

They expressed unhappiness with the governor’s and DEQ’s positions “the state is limited in its ability to control what actions are authorized” saying, “we view the state’s reliance upon that premise as having been a hiding place for too long.”

“We argue that Cheyenne can and should have long ago been more aggressive with EPA and Washington, D.C., through our Washington delegation and our state legislature by pressing them to protect our health interests while they have been working so hard to support industry’s unfettered access to Wyoming’s energy reserves,” the letter states.

It asks questions, as well.

“How will DEQ seek greater emission controls when it argues impotence in such efforts due to its claims of jurisdictional ‘hand-tying’ by federal agencies as well as a faith-based reliance upon unforceable industry volunteerism,” members ask.

“Why isn’t BLM doing more to reduce air emissions from ongoing operations in the Pinedale Anticline such as requiring a liquids gathering system, phased development, Tier 3 (or 4) drill rigs or equivalent, anti-idling requirements, car-pooling, inspection/maintenance programs, etc., all of which DEQ claims no jurisdiction or ability to require,” is another question.

Additionally, members ask, “Why are the discussions concerning EPA’s EU-3(unsatisfactory rating) letter taking place behind closed doors?”

CLOUD sees “aggressive contact” from the Governor’s office and state regulatory agencies being directed to the Wyoming Delegation, industry officials, key energy legislative committees, and BLM and Department of Interior leaders as being key elements, the letter states.

“...Operators have been holding forth (changes to reduce emissions) only in return for approved winter drilling rights which really constitutes a form of coercion rather than a conviction to ‘do the right thing,’” the letter says.

“Operator complaints of affordability are weak at best and absurd at worst because the gross revenue to be realized from the Anticline alone and at current market futures prices works out to something on the order of $200 billion to $250 billion. They can afford to do much better so Cheyenne needs to accept this fact and leverage it.”

The letter is signed, “Submitted with respect but determination.”

See The Archives for past articles.

Copyright © 2002-2008 Sublette Examiner
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
Sublette Examiner, PO Box 1539, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3203