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EPA Administrator Wheeler Begins Western Swing in Wyoming Meeting with State, Local Partners

07/23/2020
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

Cheyenne, Wyo. (July 23, 2020) — Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler began his swing through the West meeting with Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on in-situ recovery process of uranium extraction, and visiting the Sherard Water Treatment Plant.

“It was great to meet with Governor Gordon and understand what is needed to reestablish a strong uranium mining industry in this country after several decades of decline,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “Wyoming knows how to balance environmental conservation and energy production as well as any state in the country, so it’s a perfect fit to sign this agreement here in Cheyenne.”

“I want to thank Administrator Wheeler for taking the time to visit Wyoming and discuss how the state and federal government can work collaboratively to develop common-sense solutions to protect our water and air. This is a long-standing tradition that began when Alan Simpson, Stan Hathaway, John Turner and Mike Sullivan invited Bill Ruckelshaus to our University in the early 1990s.” said Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon.

“Wyoming and EPA have worked closely together over the past three years to protect the environment and allow for economic growth,” said EPA Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento. “We look forward to continuing that relationship into the future.”

“EPA continues to strengthen relationships with our partners in Wyoming,” said EPA Regional Administrator Greg Sopkin. “Through agreements with Wyoming on self-audit and NRC on uranium extraction, as well as the investments we are making in cleaner air, land and water resources, EPA will support the state’s communities and economies for years to come.”

After touching down in the Equality State, Administrator Wheeler met with Governor Gordon and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to discuss important issues including Wyoming’s self-audit agreement – the first state to do so, regional haze, and water quality at the Wyoming State Capital.

“As always, it was a pleasure meeting with Administrator Wheeler to discuss important environmental issues specific to Wyoming,” said Wyoming DEQ Director Todd Parfitt. “I appreciate the open communication and relationship we have developed. This openness has led to successful implementation of programs, including the environmental self-audit program which has yielded very positive results in reducing emissions.”

During a press conference with Governor Gordon, Administrator Wheeler signed an MOU with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The MOU is an important step towards establishing a robust domestic uranium mining industry, which is increasingly important for the national security interests of the U.S. The MOU outlines how EPA and NRC will work to accomplish our respective responsibilities under Title II of the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act of 1978 to protect public health, safety and the environment from radiological and non-radiological hazards.

The day wrapped up with a tour of the Sherard Water Treatment Plant, which supplies potable water for the city of Cheyenne. The $36 million plant came online in 2002. They also visited an adjacent groundwater treatment plant that uses air filtration technology to remove TCE to non-detectable levels in the city's drinking water. 

“Our country’s water utility operators are everyday environmental heroes—tirelessly working on the front lines to provide clean and safe water services to our communities while protecting our environment,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water David Ross. “It was a privilege to spend time with the Sherard Water Treatment Plant staff and thank them for helping to protect public health in the great community of Cheyenne.”

“We are honored to be entrusted with Cheyenne’s precious water resources that provide safe drinking water, a natural resource for business, fire protection and our way of life. After all, water connects us all,” said City of Cheyenne Board of Public Utilities Director Brad Brooks.