Five groups petition for ozone designation

Five advocacy organizations asked the Environmental Protection Agency on Wednesday to designate the Uinta Basin in northeast Utah and Rio Blanco County as out of compliance with federal ozone standards.

The move would be an initial step toward requirements to clean up air in the basin, where pollution from local oil and gas production is the leading source of volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxide, which react with sunlight to form ozone.

Draft ozone readings last winter in Rio Blanco County already put the area on track to be considered in violation of federal standards, the first time that will have happened in western Colorado. It can’t officially be considered to be in violation until this 
May 1, pending certification of last year’s results.

Jeremy Nichols of WildEarth Guardians said designating the Rangely area as a nonattainment area is something the agency technically will have to do, but there’s no deadline for it to do so under the law.

“Without a petition, EPA may act, but it likely won’t be for several years,” he said.

WildEarth Guardians, the Western Colorado Congress, Earthworks’ Oil and Gas Accountability Project, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment filed this week’s petition. Uintah and Duchesne counties in Utah don’t have a three-year ozone record of violation, but the groups say that will happen soon if conditions persist, and designating them as nonattainment also is warranted.

EPA spokesman Richard Mylott said Wednesday that the agency will review the petition.

“The Uinta Basin is among many areas in the country where EPA is evaluating ozone concerns,” he said.

David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, said the petition seeks to make a Vernal, Utah, problem a Rangely problem. Rangely’s ozone issue is a result of pollution blowing in from other areas, he said, but a nonattainment designation “is sort of taking a punitive approach to our members in Colorado,” he said.

The petition’s filing comes as Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission is considering statewide oil and gas controls to help reduce ozone, traditionally a Front Range problem. The petitioners say the Rangely situation exemplifies the need for such blanket controls, while some industry and government entities in western Colorado question why they are needed in a region most of which isn’t in danger of violating ozone standards.


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It seems to me that the industry’s attitude toward air quality is “Go suck a tail pipe.” This is a false equivalency. We do not have to choose between an industry that we all rely on for heating our homes and transportation and air that doesn’t make us sick. I wish industry would work with environmentalists to protect the air, instead of always trying to make people afraid for their jobs and local economy. The industry keeps bragging about how wonderful their new technologies are. Let’s use some of that technology to create a win/win for all of us. After all, even people working in the oil patch breathe and have families that enjoy the activity also.


Who exactly is “US”? I don’t think that members of any of the groups mentioned reside in Rangely, and I don’t think that the people of Rangely appreciate your efforts to close down the Rangely field which has been in operation since the 1940’s. 

If they want to close up business they will let you know.

Until then please do go suck a tail pipe.

I’m sorry that some people are so filled with hate and misunderstanding. To my knowledge nobody is trying to shut down the Rifle field. The “us” I referred to is every living, breathing organism in the vicinity of air. That would include you. A win win for all of us would mean that industry gets to thrive and organisms get to breathe. Why would anyone be so hateful about that?


The advocacy of these groups has nothing to do with air quality. It is the simple use of any judicial means available to ban drilling in Colorado despite the fact that the vast majority of the ozone is being generated outside of western Colorado.

Never mind that the rig count in eastern Utah is ten times greater than western Colorado. Use federal regulations to ban the marginal gas drilling in Colorado first and then finish the job by using tighter restrictions next year to make the oil drilling in Utah unprofitable.

After all the clean air act is designed to become more restrictive with every passing year until every extractive industry is eventually outsourced.

Clearly you believe that environmentalists are out to get you. Have you ever had a conversation with any of these groups that you so fear? Maybe communication would open eyes on both sides of the issue. It isn’t helpful to make a lot of assumptions without even trying to communicate. I think you might find that a lot of environmentalists are also realists. It simply is not realistic to close down the oil and gas industry. Even environmentalists drive automobiles and live indoors in heated spaces.


I think you started your post with the following:

“It seems to me that the industry’s attitude toward air quality is “Go suck a tail pipe.””

I was just responding to your predisposition by highlighting the underlying goals of the five advocacy organizations which is to regulate the industry out of existence.

Every time that the industry makes a move to agree to more regulations environmental advocates like yourself always have the knee jerk response that more regulation is necessary.

Mike, although I resigned my position on the board of Western Colorado Congress when I decided to run for office again, I can tell you for a fact that at least one of the organizations you are trying to trash has an official policy that recognizes the value of oil and gas to our local economies, and is not trying to destroy it. You seem to think that all regulation is bad, but fair rules exist in every industry, and are enacted by legislators or regulatory agencies in response to problems that develop. Every agency and legislative body seeks public input for every rule that is finalized, so these rules are not developed in a vacuum, nor are they developed without the input of industry. That is the Democratic process. I wonder, do you spend as much time worrying that there are traffic rules?


I think you should consider your own analogy between oil and gas regulations and driving regulations.

People have been driving and drilling on the western slope since the 1940’s, but traffic law has changed very little in the last 20 years while regulations on drilling have increased dramatically.

Again no matter how much regulation is put in place environmental advocates like yourself will always clamor for more regulation without consideration to the causation.

In this case advocates like yourself are seeking to increase Colorado regulations to further reduce the drilling activity in Rio Blanco county from 2 rigs to zero rigs.

What effect will those increased Colorado regulations have on activity in Utah other than to make it a relatively more attractive place to operate?

Pardon my expletive, but *. You are going to believe what you are going to believe. But the motivation you place on me, and people like me is pure *. You believe what you hear about us instead of what you hear FROM us. And you’ve been fed a line of bull.

There are new driving rules concerning seat belts, road rage, texting…

Given your comment that only 1 out of the 5 organizations in the article recognize any benefits from oil and gas activity sums up the collective motivation quite effectively. 

Again to use an ozone level reading that occurs for a couple of winter weeks in an extraordinary winter year as a rationale to designate Rangely as a non-attainment area due to it’s proximity to Utah’s active field is sad evidence of the true agenda to regulate drilling out of existence.

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