Colorado passes ground-breaking air quality regs

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Colorado passes ground-breaking air quality regs

AQCChearing_02_2014

WCC member Roze Evans was one of many citizens who spoke in support of strong air quality regulations at the AQCC hearing in February.

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The WCC team at the AQCC hearing: Top Row (L to R): Doug Saxton, Duke Cox, Sarah Sauter (The Conservation Center), Rein van West, Tara Meixsell, Al Lowande. Bottom Row (L to R): Leslie Robinson, Roze Evans, Frank Smith

Congratulations, Colorado!

People across the state will breathe a little easier now that the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) has passed new rules.  In late February, the AQCC approved new rules limiting air pollution coming from the oil & gas industry after holding a public hearing in Denver!  Click here to read the unofficial draft regulations.

Colorado became the first state in the nation to pass rules regulating methane escaping from oil & gas facilities. The new rules also help reduce ground level ozone, or smog–something that is increasingly present in places like Rio Blanco, Garfield & Mesa Counties.  Pipelines, well-heads, compressor stations and other “stationary sources” will be required to leak less.  That means climate-impacting (and useable) methane won’t go into the air, and neither will other gases that can be harmful to health.

The new rules could have been stronger (read our Prehearing Statement), but they also could have been much weaker.

Western Colorado Congress (WCC) was a proud party to the process.  Overall, we were fighting for rules to be stronger than originally proposed, and state-wide with no exemptions.  We were pushing for extra protections when oil & gas is closer to people, as well: more inspections, faster repair time when leaks are detected, and more.

“Thousands of hours were volunteered by concerned people to make all the elements come together,” noted Bob Arrington, member of WCC and Grand Valley Citizens Alliance. “It was a true demonstration of grassroots efforts, showing we still have a voice against the industry and political pressure that was brought to bear.”

WCC would like to thank all of you! Your hard work and dedication to clean Colorado air made the difference.  Members from Routt County to Ridgway testified during the lengthy hearings in Denver, both in person and over the phone.  Members also wrote comments to the state agency, solicited support from local governments, and teamed-up with Weld Air & Water and Western Slope Conservation Center to be formally represented at the hearings with an attorney.

We’d also like to give a big shout-out to Governor Hickenlooper’s office for their leadership; to the few oil & gas companies who supported the rules; and to the Air Quality Control Commission, especially Grand Junction’s very own Dr. Teresa Coons.  (Dr. Coons has been a steadfast representative for public health, good science, and the Western Slope. Thank you!)

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