December 8, 2022
Vernal, Utah — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has finalized an air quality plan, called a Federal Implementation Plan, which will require enforceable controls on the emissions of air pollutants from new, modified, and existing oil and natural gas facilities on Indian country lands within the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation in northeast Utah. EPA’s plan will address air quality in the Uinta Basin Ozone Nonattainment Area and support a streamlined approach for authorizing new oil and natural gas production on Indian country lands within the Reservation.
“EPA’s plan will protect air quality in northeast Utah communities while providing oil and gas producers with consistent pollution control requirements across the Uinta Basin,” said EPA Regional Administrator KC Becker. “These efforts will ensure we make progress on reducing harmful pollution while allowing for the continued, responsible development of the Basin’s resources.”
EPA’s Federal Implementation Plan will improve air quality by establishing emissions control requirements for oil and natural gas activities that contribute to high ozone concentrations in the Uinta Basin; establish regulatory requirements that are the same or consistent between Indian country and neighboring jurisdictions in the Basin; and secure air emissions reductions on the Indian country lands within the Reservation to ensure that new development of oil and natural gas sources will not interfere with the attainment of national air quality standards for ground-level ozone and other air pollutants.
The control requirements in the plan will apply to various production sources, including storage vessels, natural gas dehydrators, and pneumatic pumps, as well as truck loading and unloading operations. It also requires the implementation of a semi-annual leak detection and repair program at facilities that meet specific emissions or production thresholds. The plan specifically focuses on controlling emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from affected facilities.
Portions of northeast Utah have experienced exceedances of national air quality standards for ozone in recent years. Ozone is created by chemical reactions between oxides of nitrogen and VOCs. This happens when pollutants emitted by cars, power plants, oil and gas production sources, industrial boilers, refineries, chemical plants, and other sources chemically react in the presence of sunlight. Ozone can damage lungs and the respiratory system and aggravate diseases such as asthma, emphysema, and chronic bronchitis.
Emissions control requirements for VOCs from existing, new, and modified oil and natural gas sources are currently required in areas of the Basin where EPA has approved the Utah Department of Environmental Quality to implement the Clean Air Act. Unless and until replaced by a Tribal Implementation Plan, this FIP will be implemented and enforced by EPA, or by the Ute Indian Tribe if EPA delegates authority to the Tribe.
Visit the Federal Register website for the final rule and additional information.
Visit EPA’s ground-level ozone website.