By Associated Press - Thursday, January 30, 2014

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) - Garfield County is joining four other western Colorado counties in an effort to persuade state regulators to soften proposed new air quality standards, urging the state not to adopt statewide standards that may not apply in some areas.

Environmental groups want statewide rules governing the oil and gas industry, which has been blamed for much of the air pollution.

Other counties in the government coalition include Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Montezuma counties, the Glenwood Springs Post Independent reported Thursday ( ).

Those counties say they support strong regulation of oil and gas operations, including many of the draft rules now before the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission, but they say some of the current proposals are too broad.

Garfield County officials said records show that Garfield and other natural-gas-producing counties on the Western Slope are consistently within federal pollution limits.

Battlement Mesa resident Bob Arrington, speaking for the Grand Valley Citizens Alliance supporting tougher standards, pointed to Garfield County’s own air-monitoring data in recent years that show spikes in ozone pollutants well above federal standards, even if the average readings are within acceptable levels.

He also referred to data collected on forest lands in eastern Garfield and Pitkin counties through 2010 and 2011 that detected higher levels of pollution at higher elevations.

“When it comes to air flow, the forces of nature prevail,” he said.

“What is made in Utah, or even China for that matter, affects the Western Slope of Colorado. Likewise, what the Western Slope makes affects the air in neighboring counties to the east and on the Front Range,” he said.

David Ludlam, executive director for the West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association, rejected suggestions that the industry has been irresponsible.

Ludlam said the West Slope association has legitimate concerns about the potential cost to natural gas producers to increase inspections at remote well sites in western Colorado, and the impact those costs will have on local taxing agencies that rely on industry tax dollars.


Information from: Post Independent,

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