EPA, natural gas company settle clean-air case in Uinta Basin
Federal regulators have reached a settlement with QEP Field Services Co. over alleged air-pollution violations on tribal lands in eastern Utah.
The agreement covers five natural gas compressors formerly operated by Questar Gas Management Co. on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The settlement requires the company to pay $3.65 million in civil penalties and $350,000 toward a Clean Air Trust Fund to be established by the Ute Indian tribe based at Fort Duchesne.
In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency is requiring QEP to reduce pollution from its oil and gas operations. The company must reduce its emissions by removing certain equipment, installing additional pollution controls and updating instrument controls with compressed air control systems.
"Natural gas extraction projects help to fuel our economy, but also need to follow the nation's laws," said Cynthia Giles of EPA's enforcement office. "Today's settlement will bring cleaner air to the members of the Northern Ute Tribe by ensuring natural gas compressor stations are operated in compliance with the law and by creating a trust to fund environmental projects on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation."
Last month the tribe teamed up with an environmental group WildEarth Guardians to threaten a citizen lawsuit against operators of the coal-fired Bonanza power plant, which also is on the reservation.
The EPA-QEP agreement is expected to cut about 210 tons of nitrogen oxides, 219 tons of carbon monoxide, 17 tons of hazardous air pollutants and more than 166 tons of volatile organic compounds each year.