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December 12, 2013
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County to take part in air quality rulemaking

Garfield County is seeking formal “party status” as the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission gets set to begin considering new air quality standards for oil and gas operations.

“This board has made a commitment to studying air quality issues, and this is an issue we would like to pursue and have a voice in,” County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said earlier this week in support of the request to participate in the rulemaking process.

Among the efforts to address air pollution, he noted, are the county’s ongoing general air quality monitoring, the 2011 Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment and more recently the county’s partnership with Colorado State University on a three-year study of air quality around well sites.

“We do need to represent our citizens … both those who work in the oil and gas industry and those who have concerns about [its] impact on air quality,” Jankovsky said.

“We do want to address those concerns, but at the same time we don’t want to have restrictions that are so stringent that it shuts down oil and gas development in our county,” he said.

Colorado’s proposed new air quality rules for oil and gas drillers were made public last month. Among the provisions would be the first-ever statewide standards for methane emissions from drilling operations.

The Air Quality Control Commission could make the rules final by February.

Counties, towns, industry groups and others with a stake in the regulatory outcome have until today to request party status in the process, essentially giving those entities a seat at the table.

“Garfield County is located in the Piceance Basin, and is host to about a quarter of the current oil and gas development activity in Colorado, based on recent well permit applications,” according to the county’s formal letter requesting party status, which was approved by the commissioners on Monday.

“Because of the substantial presence of the industry in the county and the resources we devote to managing its effects, the county will devote time and effort to comment on the [commission’s] draft rules and to participate in the hearings,” the letter states.

The county is designating commissioners Jankovsky, John Martin and Mike Samson, along with environmental health manager Paul Reaser, oil and gas liaison Kirby Wynn, and county attorney Frank Hutfless to participate in the rulemaking process.

A pre-hearing status conference is scheduled for Dec. 19. Public hearings are scheduled for Feb. 19, 20 and 21, 2014, at the Aurora Municipal Center, 15151 E. Alameda Parkway in Aurora.

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The Post Independent Updated Dec 13, 2013 07:02PM Published Dec 14, 2013 01:06PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.