Industry urges prudent action on air quality
Air-quality regulators should keep in mind geographical and geological realities as they consider new rules on preventing emissions from drilling equipment, industry representatives said Thursday.
The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission also should keep in mind that there could be economic consequences to their decisions, the commission was told.
Conditions are different in the northwest Colorado Piceance Basin, where natural gas is the most frequent drilling target, than they are in the DJ Basin, where deep reservoirs of oil are being tapped, attorney John Jacus told the commission, which met Thursday morning in a retreat at Grand Junction City Hall.
Regulations should be tailored to the various circumstances of drilling and producing in Colorado, David Ludlam, executive director of the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association said.
“The question is, are you going to overshoot and have everybody in violation?” Ludlam asked the commission, which is beginning a rulemaking process that is to culminate this fall.
Restrictive requirements aimed at reducing emissions on modern machinery could be counterproductive when applied generally over the industry, Jacus said.
“You can’t put the latest equipment on an old stripper well that you would put on a new horizontal well pad,” Jacus said. A “stripper well” is an old well still capable of production, but which is put in and out of service when commodity prices justify doing one or the other.
Too restrictive a regulatory regime could mean that stripper wells and small producers would have to be capped, so as not to incur regulatory costs, Ludlam said.
Health officials also urged the commission to tread carefully. “We don’t want things that are responsive to a Front Range problem to hurt our economy,” Jeremy Simmons, environmental health officer for Rio Blanco County, told the commission.
The commission today is to tour drill rigs and production facilities in western Colorado.