Wyoming DEQ creates Citizens Advisory Task Force for ozone
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
February 26, 2012
The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ) convened the first meeting of their newly formed Upper Green River Basin Air Quality Citizens Advisory Task Force on Tuesday, February 21st in the Lovatt Room of the Pinedale Library.
The purpose of the task force is "to advise and recommend to WDEQ approaches for resolving air quality issues and increase public engagement in the proposed Ozone Nonattainment Area of Sublette County and parts of Sweetwater and Lincoln counties. The task force will also conduct a coordinated review of WDEQ proposed initiatives. Lastly, the task force will assist in improving communication channels between the public and WDEQ," according to documents given to the Task Force members at the meeting. WDEQ is continuing to work on plans to lower ozone precursor levels, as well as engage the public on solving critical air quality issues.
The task force leader is John Corra, Director of the Air Quality Division of the WDEQ. Assisting with the task group creation were Steve Smutko and Elizabeth Spaulding from the Haub School and Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources out of the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Darla Potter, from DEQ’s Air Quality Division, gave a presentation on the history and current state of ozone in the Upper Green River Basin non-attainment area.
Prior to convening the task force, Spaulding interviewed potential Task Force members to screen for willingness to serve on the Task Force, assess priorities and expectations, information needs, and logistical needs and constraints of the potential members. Twenty potential Task Force participants with interests or involvement in air quality issues in the Upper Green River Basin area were identified and interviewed. Not all 26 Task Force members could be reached for preliminary interviews.
No public notice was given to solicit other interested public to be on this Task Force CAG, and the media was not informed of the steering committee process while it was taking place selecting potential task force members.
Task Force members are persons with interests in air quality in the proposed Non Attainment Area representing industry, organizations and interest groups such as municipal governments, county governments, BLM, US Forest Service, Governor’s office, public health, environmental groups, private citizens, and Wyoming DEQ. Ideas presented within the discussions will not be assumed to be the official positions of the groups represented unless specifically stated as such. The task group members are expected to keep their interest groups informed of the actions and outcomes of the group’s process. Members will serve a 2-year term with the option of reappointment. Service is at the discretion of the interest group.
When questioned about how group members were selected, Corra said, "The mix was purposeful." He added, "We have what we consider to be the critical stakeholders. This group was set up with individual interests identified." The group is not an oversight committee and they are not intended to supervise DEQ. Task group members were ultimately appointed by Corra. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead supports the creation of this CAG, Corra said, and a governor’s office representative is on the Task Force.
WDEQ selected the following people to be on the Task Force:
John Anderson, Pinedale Citizen
Joel Bousman, Sublette County Commissioner (replaced by Commissioner Andy Nelson)
Craig Brown, QEP Resources Air Specialist, Denver, Colorado
Kent Connelly, Lincoln County Commissioner, Kemmerer, Wyoming
Elaine Crumpley, CURED President, Pinedale Citizen
Shane Deforest, Pinedale Field Office Manager, Bureau of Land Management
Steve Dietrich, Air Quality Division Director, WDEQ, Cheyenne, Wyoming
David Hohl, Town of Pinedale Town Councilman
Wally Johnson, Sweetwater County Commissioner, Rock Springs, Wyoming
Dr. Thomas Johnston, Sublette County Public Health Officer, Pinedale
Carmel Kail, Pinedale citizen
Stephanie Kessler, Wyoming Program Manager, Wilderness Society, Lander, Wyoming
Cally McKee, Environmental & Regulatory Manager, Ultra Petroleum, Pinedale
Tom Monahan, Sr. Regulator Specialist, Exxon Mobil, Houston, Texas
Cortnie Morrell, Environmental Specialist, Williams Company, Green River, Wyoming
Bruce Pendery, Staff Attorney, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Logan, Utah
Jeremiah Rieman, Natural Resources Policy Advisor, Office of the Governor, Cheyenne
Jim Robinson, Mayor, Town of Marbleton
Isabel Rucker, Private Citizen, CURED
Mike Shaffron, Permitting & Compliance, Encana Oil & Gas, Denver, Colorado
Phillip Smith, Mayor, Town of Big Piney
Larry Stepp, Mayor, Town of LaBarge
Terry Svalberg, Air Quality Specialist, US Forest Service, Pinedale
Hank Williams, Pinedale Citizen
Angela Zivkovich, Sr. Environmental Engineer, Shell Energy, Denver, Colorado
During the meeting, the group discussed their proposed charter, which identifies the group’s purpose as "…to consider and advise on potential solutions to reduce ozone. It will accomplish this through mutual education; increasing transparency in process; fostering communication among citizens, the WDEQ, other governmental agencies and other stakeholders; and coordinating information between government agencies." The group questioned some of the wording in the charter and made some adjustments.
The authority of the Task Force is: "The Task Force is an advisory group convened by WDEQ that reports its recommendations to WDEQ. Recommendations generated by the Task Force will be considered and may be accepted in whole, in part, or rejected at the discretion of the WDEQ. The Task Force may elect to pursue issues through other efforts that fall outside the scope of the WDEQ’s authority."
The Task Force is expected to generate recommendations for reducing ozone levels; create periodic reports of issues and recommendations it has considered; undertake initiatives to enhance education and awareness of the issues; have an annual budget for education and outreach (amount and source not identified); transparency roadmap; information dissemination.
Their scope of consideration is limited to the Ozone Nonattainment Area of Sublette County and parts of Lincoln and Sweetwater counties in the Upper Green River Basin as defined by WDEQ. "I do not want this to be a group in search of a problem," Corra told the Task Force members. "We’re here to solve ozone."
Some members questioned what was expected of them, pointing out most were not scientists. Marbleton Mayor Jim Robinson asked, "What is it that you really want from us?" Dave Hohl and Carmel Kail both questioned if the group might be the wrong mix of people to best tackle solving the ozone problem. Corra explained that this would be a joint fact-finding mission to consider and advise on potential solutions to ozone.
Four group meetings per year are planned initially. At the end of the year, the group will reassess if they should continue for a longer period of time. Some meeting business may be conducted via email "to expedite this process." The decision-making process will be by consensus of all members represented at a given meeting.
When asked how the general public would ‘get a seat at the table,’ Corra explained that all of the Task Force meetings are open to observation by the public. Public comment time will be given at transitions between agenda items at each meeting. "The Task Force will not normally attempt to respond to public or media comments or questions at the meetings in which they are made," the guiding documents state. Corra added that DEQ will continue to hold normal public comment meetings on the topic of ozone, as needed. Final summaries of Task Force meetings will be available on the DEQ website (www.deq.state.wy.us), as well as upon request.