WASHINGTON – The Department of Justice and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today announced a settlement with QEP Field Services Co. (QEPFS), formerly Questar Gas Management Co., to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act at five natural gas compressor stations on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Northeastern Utah. Four members of the Ute Indian Tribe intervened as co-plaintiffs. Under the proposed settlement, QEPFS will pay a $3.65 million civil penalty and pay $350,000 into a Tribal Clean Air Trust Fund to be established by the tribal member intervenors. The settlement also requires QEPFS to reduce its emissions by removing certain equipment, installing additional pollution controls, and replacing the natural gas powered instrument control systems with compressed air control systems.
“This settlement will result in cleaner air for residents living on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation and allow the responsible development of energy resources in accordance with the Clean Air Act,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the Department of Justice. “It also will establish the Tribal Clean Air Trust Fund to fund environmental projects for the benefit of tribal members.”
“Natural gas extraction projects help to fuel our economy, but also need to follow the nation’s laws,” said Cynthia Giles, Assistant Administrator of EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “Today’s settlement will bring cleaner air to the members of the Ute Indian 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.”
The Tribal Clean Air Trust Fund will fund beneficial environmental projects on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation, including projects to reduce emissions of air pollution on the reservation, mitigate the impacts of air pollution on tribal members, screen for air pollution related health impacts among tribal members, or educate tribal members about the impacts of air pollution on their health and the environment.
QEPFS’s compressor stations remove water and compress natural gas for transportation through gas pipelines. They are sources of air pollution, emitting hazardous air pollutants (HAPs), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), which can increase the risk of asthma attacks and are significant contributors to the formation of ozone. The actions required in the settlement will eliminate approximately 210 tons of NOx, 219 tons of carbon monoxide, 17 tons of HAPs and more than 166 tons of VOCs per year. It will also conserve 3.5 million cubic feet of gas each year, which could heat approximately 50 U.S. households. The reduction in methane emissions (a greenhouse gas that is a component of natural gas) is equivalent to planting more than 300 acres of trees.
QEPFS is a wholly-owned subsidiary of QEP Resources Inc., which is headquartered in Denver. QEPFS provides midstream field services such as natural gas gathering, compression, dehydration and processing to upstream natural gas companies.
The consent decree is subject to a 30-day public comment period and final court approval. The consent decree may be viewed on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.
For more information about the settlement, visit: www.epa.gov/compliance/resources/cases/civil/caa/qepfs.html.
To learn more about EPA’s civil enforcement of the Clean Air Act, visit: www.epa.gov/compliance/civil/caa/index.html.