Counties want flexibility with air pollution rules

PARACHUTE — Garfield and Mesa county commissioners on Thursday finalized a five-county coalition’s call for flexibility in proposed new air pollution rules for oil and gas development.

The two counties, along with Rio Blanco and Moffat counties in northwest Colorado and Montezuma County in far southwest Colorado, worry in a joint letter about taking a standard, statewide approach to new controls on exploration and production activities.

The counties also question taking a one-size-fits-all approach when ozone problems are largely limited to the Front Range, and when, they say, emissions are higher for oil- and liquids-rich basins in eastern Colorado than for what are called dry-gas basins in western Colorado.

Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission is scheduled to consider the proposed rules next month.

Citizen groups also have called for tighter rules for facilities within a quarter-mile of homes, and some Garfield residents objected this week to the position being finalized by Garfield commissioners.

“In our opinion, the commissioners are here to protect citizens, our human health — and should not be concerned with the cost analysis of how these proposed rules impact the oil-and-gas industry,” Leslie Robinson with the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance said in comments submitted to the county.

Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said Thursday that commissioners are responsible for looking after the health, safety and welfare of residents.

He said he recognized the health issue related to air pollution.

“But welfare also is being able to have jobs and a strong economy, and so we have to have a balance between the two,” he said.

Garfield County took the lead in putting together the coalition letter, which Mesa commissioners praised on Thursday.

“Good job, and we feel fortunate to be part of the coalition,” Mesa County Commissioner Steve Acquafresca said.


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When did the oil and gas industry profits become the only consideration in public health?

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