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RBC | County commissioners have drafted a letter to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment in regard to proposed rules for air quality that would apply the same rules for combatting ozone levels to the Western Slope and the Front Range.
Proposed revisions to Regulation No. 7 would “address the requirements of the federal Clean Air act for areas classified as moderate non-attainment,” and would grant the Air Quality Control Commission the power to impose “similar requirements on facilities on a state-wide basis,” according to documents on the commission’s website.
RBC Commissioners responded to the proposed revisions as presented in a Daily Sentinel article Aug. 18, in which Air Quality Control Commission Administrator Michael Silverstein was quoted as saying, “All of Colorado contributes to each other’s air quality problems” and goes on to state “that’s especially the case when it comes to ozone, a regional pollutant derived from a number of different compounds.”
The revisions present a potential hindrance to rejuvenating oil and gas development in Western Colorado, as it would place greater restrictions on industry to control leaks from natural gas wells, compressors and pipelines that contribute VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the atmosphere. An air quality report from the American Lung Association for 2016 indicated that Rangely had a few days of higher than normal ozone levels. Practices related to oil and gas drilling are considered one cause for high ozone levels, but are not considered the primary culprit.
Automobile traffic is the number one contributor to high ozone levels. Another contributor, and likely one that is responsible for the winter occurrence of high ozone in Rangely, is that sunlight reflecting off snow creates ozone. Years in which there is heavy snow coverage in the area record more instances of higher ozone. In addition, VOCs released in the Uinta Basin are thought likely to cross state lines into Rio Blanco County as a result of typical west to east weather patterns.
High ozone levels have been connected to respiratory problems such as asthma and lung cancer.
The commissioners’ letter in response to the article expressed their disappointment over “numerous inaccurate and inappropriate statements” from Silverstein, adding, “These statements seriously call into question whether he remains fit to guide the Commission through an objective, open-minded rulemaking process as required by law.”
The revisions to the regulation are scheduled to be heard on Oct. 19-20. Interested parties are encouraged to share their comments either in person at the hearing or in writing prior to the hearing. Written comments should be submitted by Oct. 2. Electronic submissions should be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org and include name, address, phone number, email address and the name of the group that you may be representing (if applicable). Written submissions should be mailed to: Colorado Air Quality Control Commission Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment 4300 Cherry Creek Dr. South, EDO-AQCC-A5 Denver, Colo., 80246.