Air Quality Commission Adopts Statewide Standards

Denver—Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission adopted sweeping changes to permitting and emission controls requirements for oil and gas drilling across the state.  Officials with the AQCC say the regulations will require more frequent inspections for leaks for rigs near homes, schools and other public facilities.  It also calls for tougher statewide requirements for reducing emissions from storage tanks and forces companies to provide annual emission reports.  For many Western Garfield County residents, the new rules are an early Christmas present while for others it’s a lump of coal.  Members of the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance, most of whom live near drilling rigs in the Battlement Mesa area, are thrilled with the new regulations.  Garfield County officials expressed dismay and disappointment with the decision.  The county led the battle against the one-size-fits-all standard along with 22 other counties in rural western and eastern Colorado.  The coalition testified before the AQCC that an all-encompassing set of rules on low production rigs outside the non-attainment area would only reduce ozone at a violating monitor in the north front range by a small fraction of 0.3 parts per billion.  County Commission Chairman John Martin says the new rules will do little to improve air quality but will harm the economic well being of communities that rely on a steady income from oil and gas revenues.