Each year, the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining presents Environmental Excellence Awards to companies, organizations or individuals who go above and beyond what is required by regulation to protect the environment, while developing Utah’s natural resources.
Awards are presented in the areas of oil and gas, minerals mining and coal mining. Specific award categories are environmental improvement to an active mine site, exploration site, or producing field; outstanding results following applications of innovative environmental technology; and outstanding final reclamation or site restoration.
The following companies received Environmental Excellence Awards for 2021:
American Gilsonite Company (AGC)– Outstanding reclamation in the Bonanza area of Uintah County: AGC reclaimed 14 total locations, including nine full mine sites, amounting to over 20% of their total reclamation obligations. They went beyond regulations by capping shafts using methods that ensure long term stability, separated materials for recycling, and are promoting successful regrowth of vegetation through researched seed selection, moisture retainment, and additional water for improved germination. Although Uintah County was among the Utah counties hardest hit by unemployment due to Covid, AGS was able to keep vital employees working through one of the most difficult times in the company’s history.
Caerus Uinta, LLC: Outstanding final reclamation at the Greater Natural Buttes site in Uintah County: From October 2020 to February 2021, Caerus staff reclaimed, contoured, and seeded approximately 108 acres. They focused on soil amendments, native soil nutrient needs, and native custom seed mixes. Soil samples taken throughout the area indicated the native desert soil was deficient in important plant nutrients including nitrogen, phosphate, and zinc. By amending the compost with crucial nutrients and tailoring the amount of compost used, the reclaimed sites were designed for peak native seed germination and vegetation establishment. Caerus Uinta’s goal is to implement more science-based advanced seeding methods into their reclamation projects.
Canyon Fuels Company, LLC- Skyline Mine- Public/private partnership yielding environmental improvement- The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program nominated Canyon Fuel Company’s Skyline Mine for its material support to the program’s Clear Creek Refuse Piles reclamation project. The mine’s donation of waste storage capacity at its refuse disposal site resulted in substantial cost saving to the program and facilitated the overall planning and execution of the reclamation.
Dominion Energy Questar Pipeline, LLC- Methane Emissions Reduction Program:
Since 2019 Dominion Energy Questar Pipeline, LLC has implemented a methane reduction program across its operating footprint. Dominion Energy Questar Pipeline has prevented over 267 million cubic feet of natural gas from being emitted into the atmosphere. This volume equates to removing 3,165 passenger vehicles from the road or heating 1,690 homes for one year.
The program consists of modifying infrastructure, improving systems, and several voluntary initiatives such as sending methane to adjacent low pressure pipeline systems instead of venting during maintenance.
Through this program, Dominion Energy Questar Pipeline has reduced the percentage of methane gas saved during maintenance events along pipelines and at stations by 86% in 2019 and 90% in 2020.
Manti- La Sal National Forest- Compliance Enforcement and Outreach:
The Manti-La Sal National Forest Service Minerals Team went above and beyond regulatory requirements to keep the public safe when an operator reopened an abandoned mine without authorization, sending sediment into a perennial creek approximately ½ mile upstream from Blanding’s water supply intake.
They quickly responded, coordinating with several outside agencies and stakeholders to protect public health and properly close the mine.
Marathon Petroleum Corporation (MPLX)- Environmental improvement to an active drilling site: MPLX developed a quarterly oil and gas industry best management practice program at its Ironhorse gas processing facility and compressors station, which is not subject to federal regulation. The program includes inspections to quickly identify large leaks and minimize emissions into the Uintah Basin, working to preserve Utah’s vital oil and gas supply while protecting the environment.
In 2020, repairs of leaks found during quarterly monitoring reduced emissions from 249,672 pounds of volatile organic compound to 62,615 pounds, the energy saving equivalent to the CO2 output of supplying 254 homes with power for a year.