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.


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I know that Harmon has deadlines, but I’m hoping there is a follow up story that includes how many people showed up at the 7:00 session to talk about their worries about poor air quality, which is getting worse, and will only continue on that trend unless we think carefully about what we put into the air. With projections of 250,00 people living in the Valley and a sure to come again boom time, we need to have regulations that focus on the health of the people who live here.

Is Harmon just lazy or a poor reporter? He reported only the preferential time slot musings of industry. Public comment was allocated 7 pm with minutes restriction. Harmon could have gotten the other points of view. Poor air quality can kill, and for this we should put up with marginal performing or bad cheap practices. Because it isn’t economically feasible isn’t a reason to allow harmful pollution to go on for marginal operation.”... overshoot and have everbody in violation?” Ludlam asked. He knows that is just an inflammatory question with no substance. The commission carefully review all the regulations to the pros and cons of impacts, costs and all aspects before implementing new rules.And Simmons worrying about economy over health pushing a problem to another area after Rio Blanco suffered a major ozone problem this last winter. Of course the irony of this whole hearing and process was the point that Grand Junction was under alert for poor air quality for this day!

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