Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead last Thursday urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to allow more time for comments on its proposed Regional Haze Plan, noting the federal agency only recently revised the proposal and that change would deny Wyoming’s plan to improve viewsheds in favor of a federal plan.

In a letter to EPA Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe, Mead said his state’s estimates conclude the revised federal proposal would “significantly increase” cost for Wyoming utilities, ultimately raising costs for energy utility customers. The Wyoming governor has been asking EPA to listen more to his state on the issue since last year (see Daily GPI, Aug. 9, 2012).

Separately and at the same time Wyoming was complimented by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Wyoming Outdoor Council for its draft regulations for establishing groundwater testing for oil and natural gas operators in the state. Mead and his staff were thanked by the Outdoor Council “for hearing our concerns on these issues,” according to the council’s associate director, Chris Merrill.

Regarding the draft haze rule, Mead reacted negatively to EPA’s plans to hold a public hearing June 24 and then close public comment within 60 days of that date. “A rushed hearing is like no hearing at all because the state and others will not have a meaningful opportunity to participate with such short notice,” Mead said. He asked EPA to delay the public hearing 60 days, extend the public comment period 30 days and schedule two more public hearings in Wyoming to allow for greater public involvement.

Mead argued that the EPA’s revised proposal would require “new and different” emissions controls for a number of Wyoming facilities, resulting in millions of dollars of added costs above those estimated for a haze plan proposed by the state.

Along with lower costs, “Wyoming’s plan accomplishes the goal to improve viewsheds and does so by the compliance date,” Mead said.

Regarding the state’s proposed groundwater testing, EDF Senior Energy Policy Manager Jon Goldstein said his group was still reviewing the full proposal but at this point it “appears to establish a solid, scientifically valid approach to establishing groundwater conditions in areas where oil/gas drilling will occur.”

Goldstein said the Wyoming proposal is similar to the industry supported groundwater testing adopted earlier this year in Colorado (see Shale Daily, Jan. 10), and in addition appear to address what he called “several key flaws” in the Colorado rule.

“It’s clear Wyoming has made an effort to learn from the experience of others,” Goldstein said.

Wyoming has begun a 30-day public comment period on its draft rule and has set a public hearing on the proposed rule for June 25 (see Shale Daily, May 17).

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