Come to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Public Hearing
February, 19th 12:00 pm – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Aurora Municipal Center
15151 East Alameda Parkway, Aurora, 80012
The Colorado Legislature has declared it to be the policy of the state to “achieve the maximum practical degree of air purity in every portion of the state,” to attain and maintain Federal standards on air quality, and to prevent the significant deterioration of air quality in places where the air quality is better than federally mandated. The Air Quality Control Commission of the State of Colorado is charged with making these policies into enforceable regulations. This is a commission of 9 volunteers appointed by the Governor who care passionately about air quality. This is not the Colorado Oil and Gas Control Commission, who some see as having the interests of a small group of constituents at heart. The Commissioners of the AQCC are working hard to ensure that the air quality regulations they enact are the best possible regulations for public health.
Rewind to November, when Governor Hickenlooper stood with representatives of Environmental Defense, a former EPA Region 8 administrator, and the “big three” oil and gas developers in the state, Anadarko, Encana, and Noble Energy. These groups worked to come to a consensus on rules that will positively impact public health as well as will be attainable by the developers. Do these rules promise to allow zero oil and gas emissions to escape into the air? No. Will they go a long way toward cleaning up the VOC’s and methane that are part of today’s development? Yes. They can be stronger, but they must not be any weaker.
Over the past three months, small developers and industry groups have worked hard to attack these rules in hopes that they will be weakened. The rules are long and tedious, but can be understood to address two issues. First, they will require the oil and gas industry to use better technology – technology that the big three may already be using – to reduce VOC and methane emissions. Second, the rules require the industry to inspect their infrastructure and fix leaks when they are detected.
The two main attacks heard in advance of the formal hearing are that we do not need state wide rules and we do not need air quality rules at all. Both of these attacks are wrong. In the first, we need to ensure that all regions of Colorado have the same access to quality, breathable air. If we allow the rules to vary by region, it will create a patchwork of regulation that is exactly what the Hickenlooper administration (and normally industry) is so adamantly against, leaving Coloradans at risk of having poor air quality until they can go through the lengthy and expensive process to petition for stronger regulations in their region. In the second case, look out your window on a still day. In Colorado, ground level ozone has increased since 2010, coinciding with a dramatic uptick in oil and gas development, and consistently exceeds the federal limit (for a handy infographic about ground level ozone see Conservation Colorado).
So what can you do? Support the Commission in enacting these rules. Oil and gas development is not be our preferred way to power our economy, but it’s not going to stop this year. What these rules will do is make public health a consideration in the balance sheets of developers in the State. Hopefully the brown haze seen every time one looks toward the horizon will diminish and abate, but it won’t go away without these rules. Contact the Commission either in person on February 19 at the hearing or by writing.
Colorado Air Quality Control Commission – Oil & Gas Rulemaking Hearing Public Comment Session – February 19, 2014
The Commission will have a designated time to take public comment from 12:00 PM to 3:00 PM and from 5:00 PM to 7:00 PM for participants that are appearing in person. This is designated for oral comments only. Written and/or electronic documents must be submitted to the Commission Office by closure of the Public Comment Session or by February 19, 2014. Written submissions should be mailed to: Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 4300 Cherry Creek Drive South, EDO-AQCC-A5 Denver, Colorado 80246 Email submissions should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org
PARTICIPATION BY TELEPHONE
The Commission will have a designated time of 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM for participants who are calling in. Each caller will be given a maximum of three minutes. The amount of time may be reduced based upon the number of participants. This phone-in option is intended for persons outside of the Denver Metro Area/Front Range Region who cannot attend in person. Participants will need to pre-register for this call-in session no later than February 14, 2014. You will be asked to provide the following information: your name, your address, your phone number, an email address if applicable, and the name of a particular group that you may be representing if applicable.