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Elm Ridge Exploration Company agrees to resolve Clean Air Act violations at Colorado gas plant

Release Date: 10/01/2012
Contact Information: Hans Buenning, 303-312-6486; Richard Mylott, 303-312-6654

Natural gas producer will pay $207,150 penalty, implement projects to reduce emissions and conserve natural gas on the Southern Ute Reservation

(Denver, Colo. – October 1, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a Clean Air Act settlement with Texas-based Elm Ridge Exploration Company, LLC (Elm Ridge) resolving alleged violations at the Ignacio Gas Treating Plant located on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation near Ignacio, Colorado.

The settlement requires Elm Ridge to pay $207,150 in civil penalties as well as $67,850 in unpaid permit fees. In addition, the company has agreed to replace existing compressor engines with lower-emitting engines equipped with pollution-control equipment, administer a wood stove change out program with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, and implement a project that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conserve natural gas at the plant.

“The settlement secures Elm Ridge’s commitment to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, air toxics and greenhouse gases,” said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s enforcement director in Denver. “Additionally, the conservation measures in this agreement will help return valuable natural gas to the marketplace.”

According to a complaint filed with the settlement, Elm Ridge allegedly violated provisions of the Title V Federal Operating Permit Program and the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants under the Clean Air Act. The company has worked cooperatively with EPA to resolve these violations.

The control measures and operational improvements taken by Elm Ridge are expected to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxides, volatile organic compounds, and carbon monoxide by more than 140 tons annually. The measures will also reduce emissions of hazardous air pollutants by more than 10 tons per year and greenhouse gas emissions by more than 10 tons per year, and conserve enough natural gas to heat approximately seven homes annually.

As part of the settlement, Elm Ridge has agreed to replace the remaining four large uncontrolled engines at the facility with lower-emitting engines equipped with catalytic oxidation control systems. The company will also replace existing instrument gas system with an instrument air system, which conserves natural gas otherwise vented to the atmosphere. Finally, Elm Ridge will administer a wood stove change out program to replace older wood stoves with EPA-certified wood stoves and cleaner-burning, energy-efficient hearth appliances in homes on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

This enforcement action will benefit the local community, which includes low-income areas. Low-income populations comprise 23 percent of the area where the facility is located.

    For more information on the Clean Air Act visit: http://www.epa.gov/air/caa/

    The consent decree was lodged in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado and is subject to a 30-day comment period and final approval by the court. A copy of the consent decree is available on the Department of Justice website at: http://www.usdoj.gov/enrd/Consent_Decrees.html.