Six natural gas producers agreed to spend a total of more than $6 million to install pollution control equipment at gas facilities located in the Uinta Basin near Vernal, UT, to comply with provisions of the federal Clean Air Act (CAA), federal officials said Friday.
Bill Barrett Corp., Wind River Corp., XTO Energy Inc. Dominion Exploration and Production Inc., Whiting Oil and Gas Corp., and Miller Dyer and Co. agreed to install $6.46 million in retrofits and upgrades at their Uinta Basin facilities under a series of three settlements with the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The facilities are on the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. In addition to the pollution control equipment, the producers were ordered to pay a total of $632,000 in civil penalties and to spend a total of $200,000 on supplemental environmental projects.
Under the settlements, the producers will be required to perform the following:
According to complaints filed simultaneously with the settlements, the producers allegedly violated several provisions of the CAA, including emission standards for hazardous air pollutants, federal permitting, emissions monitoring and reporting requirements. Dominion and Miller Dyer came forward and disclosed their violations under EPA's self-audit policy, all the companies worked cooperatively with officials to resolve violations, EPA said.
"These settlements not only obtain compliance with the law and control emission sources, but will reduce greenhouse gas [GHG] emissions and bring more natural gas to the marketplace," said John C. Cruden, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division.
The investment in technology by the producers is expected to reduce air pollution by more than 1,300 tons per year, EPA said. The reduction in GHG emissions, including methane, is equivalent to the annual carbon sequestration of 9,400 acres of pine or fir forest, or comparable to taking more than 7,600 cars off the road each year, said the agency. The natural gas conserved would be enough to heat around 1,080 homes annually.
The consent decrees were lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Utah and are subject to a 30-day comment period and final court approval. Copies are available at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
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