DOUGLAS – Residents of Douglas, who have lived with natural gas flaring from oil wells, stopped short of saying they opposed a new gas plant outside of town that could reduce flaring with promises of making the gas marketable at a public hearing Wednesday with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality. But they believe the proposed air permit doesn’t do enough to curtail emissions.
The plant will be operated by Jackalope Gas Gathering System, a joint venture owned 50 percent by Houston-based Crestwood Midstream Partners LP and 50 percent by Oklahoma City-based Access Midstream, said Jimmie Hammontree, a regulatory affairs manager of Midstream Partners. It will process 120 million cubic feet of gas a day from local oil wells that also contain some gas. Area gas is heavy in natural gas liquids. At the plant, the liquids will be removed from the gas stream. The gas would then be put into the transmissions pipeline for sale, he said.
Hammontree said the plant is necessary, thanks to the Niobrara shale oil boom in Converse County. There currently is no capacity in the Douglas area to remove natural gas liquids from the gas stream.
“Currently, producers are flaring the natural gas associated with new wells,” he said.
A group of residents who live four miles southwest of town where the plant will be located disagree with the plant using four to five 1,775-horsepower natural-gas fired compressor engines. They would prefer the company use electric motors, which they said would be more efficient. They appointed rancher Bob Kayser to speak for them.
“The recent guidance from the EPA is you should consider energy efficiency,” Kayser said, referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The neighbors disagreed with the DEQ’s cancer risk estimation because it did not address the interaction between particulate matter and formaldehyde, which would be an emissions risk from the compressor engines and three proposed 605 horsepower generator engines.
“Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen,” he said.
Kayser also wondered about the research on cows: Will the pollution result in spontaneous abortion? Will lactating cows pass the pollutant on to calves?
“Our livestock live outside 24/7,” he said.
Jill Morrison, of the landowner conservation group the Powder River Basin Resource Council in Sheridan, questioned the DEQ analysis, which pegged greenhouse gas emissions at 92,641 tons a year. She wanted to know how the DEQ calculated that number. She said the facility could be a major factor in deteriorating air quality in the area.
The DEQ has preliminarily proposed to approve the gas plant’s air permit but will review each comment and the supporting documents many brought to Wednesday’s hearing, said Todd Parfitt, DEQ director. He said the final decision is made by him and Steven Dietrich, administrator of the Air Quality Division.
State officials, including Gov. Matt Mead, have been criticizing oil producers in Converse County for flaring the gas. If the gas were sold at market, the state could earn tax revenues. A bill in the Wyoming Legislature would tax flaring. A Converse County lawmaker is calling for a study of environmental harms of flaring.