West Slope officials push for stricter air quality regulations | AspenTimes.com

West Slope officials push for stricter air quality regulations

Alex Zorn
Glenwood Springs Post Independent

Drill rig in a remote mountain location.
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Several elected officials from the Roaring Fork Valley and throughout the Western Slope have joined in calling on the Statewide Hydrocarbons Emissions Reduction (SHER) Task Force to push forward stronger air quality standards in the state.

A letter sent to the task force included signatures by 27 county and municipal elected officials, including Carbondale Mayor Dan Richardson, all five Pitkin County commissioners and Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch.

It asks for stronger rules to control statewide ozone and methane emissions and reduce natural gas waste across the state.

“We cannot afford the environmental costs of leaky or poorly supervised gas infrastructure,” Pitkin County Commissioner Greg Poschman said in a statement from the Western Leaders Network.

“We cannot afford the environmental costs of leaky or poorly supervised gas infrastructure.”Greg Poschman Pitkin County commissioner

“Unintentional, unproductive greenhouse gas emissions are no longer acceptable ‘costs of doing business’ for Coloradans or for the American people, nor should they be for a responsible energy industry,” Poschman said. “We all need to pitch in to maintain a stable, healthy environment for our children and their children. Let’s fix this uneven regulation now by making equitable rules apply statewide.”

The group, which included elected officials from as far south as Durango and La Plata County and north to Routt County, called for stricter air quality regulations throughout the state. The letter says that all regions of the state benefit equally from stricter standards, and asks that the rules be mandatory for all operators.

“Residents in southern, western and eastern Colorado deserve the same air quality protections as residents living on the Front Range,” the letter reads. “State health regulations should be applied uniformly based on the principal of equality for both urban and rural areas.”

The officials said they want to see rules adopted uniformly for the Front Range and Western Slope to address air quality concerns related to oil and gas development.

The letter also asks for increased protection on residential areas by requiring more inspections and repairs for oil and gas facilities within a quarter mile of homes, schools or outdoor activity areas.

It also asks for stronger air quality requirements at oil and gas operations to “avoid future ozone issues statewide.”

The SHER task force is a stakeholder group appointed by the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission in 2018 to inform new regulations to reduce hydrocarbon emissions from oil and gas facilities. The task force is expected to make recommendations by January 2020, according to the Western Leaders Network.

Garfield County Oil and Gas Liaison Kirby Wynn said that Garfield County fully participates with the SHER task force, but that the county was not approached to sign this particular letter.