Well flaring concerns Douglas-area residents

DOUGLAS, Wyo. — Flaring from oil wells drilled near homes has some residents in the Douglas area concerned about air pollution.

Flaring is the process of burning off excess natural gas from oil wells. Wells are flared in the months after drilling and before pipelines are in place to move the gas elsewhere.

Complaints from resident Janice Switzer prompted the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality to inspect flaring near her home in August, The Casper Star-Tribune reported Monday.

A DEQ inspector reported in an October memorandum about the incident that it was doubtful that flaring from two wells was meeting a state requirement, the newspaper reported.

Under the requirement in question, at least 98 percent of the materials sent through a flare must be destroyed. The investigated flares didn’t need to meet the requirement because they weren’t yet required to have a DEQ air quality permit.

Most of the state flaring permits in the Douglas area are held by Chesapeake Energy. Company spokeswoman Kelsey Campbell said the company is adhering to all state rules and regulations for flaring.

Resident Kristi Mogen said somebody needs to monitor air pollution from flares from the beginning.

Mogen and Switzer each claim their health and land have been affected by flaring. They also consider noise, light and heat generated by flare towers about a mile away from their homes to be a nuisance.

“We don’t want to live here anymore,” Mogen said.

Shawn Reese, policy director for Gov. Matt Mead, said the issue is likely to be dissected as the state forms a new energy policy.

“Flaring is an issue that reaches into revenue and environmental concerns and it’s something that we frankly need to do a better job coordinating,” he said.