Bingham Research Center Receives Additional Funding from Utah Legislative Session
By Marcus Jensen |
VERNAL, Utah — Utah State University’s Bingham Research Center has received additional funding from the Utah Legislature as part of the 2023 state’s General Legislative Session. The bill will increase funding for the center’s Uintah Basin air quality research by $150,000, bringing annual funding to $400,000. The bill also makes the funding for air quality research an ongoing appropriation.
Funding from the Utah legislature, as well as funds from Uintah County’s Special Service District #1 and other sources, allows the Bingham Center to investigate the causes of the Uintah Basin’s unique wintertime air quality problems. Their findings are used by regulatory agencies, the local oil and gas industry, and others as they work to improve air quality in the region.
“This ongoing funding gives us confidence that we can invest for the long term as our team researches the winter ozone problems that exist here,” said Seth Lyman, director of the Bingham Research Center and research associate professor in the College of Science at USU Uintah Basin.
With this additional funding, the Bingham Research Center will be able to replace several of its older machines and instruments. These improvements will aid research efforts and help the center better capture and analyze important data.
“Many of our instruments came from when the Bingham Research Center started in 2010,” Lyman said. “While the money we were receiving from the legislature helped keep our operation running, we didn’t have the funding to replace instruments that were becoming obsolete, which doesn’t take too long with the types of complex instruments that we use. This funding will allow us to replace some of that instrumentation as we need to and keep high data quality and high data continuity in the work that we do.”
In addition to funding new equipment, the funds will also be used to add additional student research positions as well as to allow the center to put more of the existing staffers’ time on Uinta Basin air quality work. This will help the center make faster progress in its goals and research.
The Uintah Basin Research Project studies the formation of ozone in the Uintah Basin. As part of this project, the USU Bingham Research Center develops and improves computer models to simulate ozone formation and determine its cause, measures pollutants in the air to track how they change over time, and characterizes pollutant emissions from various sources.
The center then creates an annual report that it shares with the legislature each year, which is used to inform policy. The center has widespread support from infrastructure coalitions, local governments, the Utah Petroleum Association, and the Utah Clear Air Partnership.
The Bingham Research Center has already developed a project to forecast ozone and alert the oil and gas industry when poor air quality is expected, allowing them to reduce emissions when it matters most. Research has also been used by the Utah Petroleum Association to encourage industry to reduce pollution from well pad equipment. Since 2016, there has been a decline in days with ozone higher than the EPA standard by nearly four days per year, potentially avoiding millions of dollars in additional compliance costs.
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