Colorado State to pitch study on air quality impacts of gas drilling | PostIndependent.com
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Colorado State to pitch study on air quality impacts of gas drilling

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Colorado State University researchers and a private research firm are slated to present a new proposal to study air emissions from natural gas operations in Garfield County.

The Garfield County commissioners will hear about the three-year study at their regular meeting Monday in Glenwood Springs. The presentation is the sixth item on the afternoon agenda, which begins at 1 p.m.

Garfield County and Colorado State University (CSU) announced the presentation on the study in press releases issued Friday. The county asked CSU to submit a study proposal.



The study is a second effort to determine air quality impacts from drilling, after the commissioners aborted an earlier study by the Colorado School of Public Health, called the Battlement Health Impacts Assessment.

CSU proposes a study team of university experts and the private firm Air Resource Specialists Inc., also of Fort Collins. An advisory panel will also weigh in on the team’s work. The university’s press release called the effort a “non-partisan scientific study.”



“The overall goal of this project is to produce a high-quality, peer-reviewed assessment of air emissions and dispersion from well drilling, hydraulic fracturing and flowback activities in Garfield County,” said CSU professor Jeffrey L. Collett Jr.

Collett is an expert in atmospheric chemistry and air quality. His team includes Jay Ham, a professor in CSU’s department of soil and crop sciences, and Air Resource Specialists Inc. president Joe Adlhoch and project manager Mark Tigges.

The study team will be advised by a panel of air quality experts with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Colorado Department of Public Health and the Environment, industry scientists and the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

CSU graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are also expected to assist with the study.

The proposed study would review the well development process from drilling to completion, including the use of hydraulic fracturing.

A variety of chemicals can be released to the atmosphere as part of well development activities, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes and other volatile hydrocarbons, Collett said.

Together with methane, these compounds comprise a complex mix of volatile organic compounds. Other emissions of interest in the study will be nitrogen oxides, which can also be produced by vehicles and electrical power plants, he said.

Collett and his team expect to provide periodic progress updates on the project for Garfield County officials and the public over the course of the proposed three-year study.

But to protect the integrity of the study, Collett said, data are not expected to be released prior to the study’s completion in 2015.

“Through our previous study efforts to quantify environmental and public health issues, Garfield County has identified energy industry air emission data gaps for our area and the nation as a whole,” said Kirby Wynn, Garfield County oil and gas liaison, in the county government’s press release.

“The proposed study, if implemented, can begin providing important well-pad air emissions data that are needed to understand, and then address, air quality issues relative to industrial activities in the county,” Wynn said.

Paul Reaser, Garfield County environmental health manager, called the proposed study an “important next step [in] collecting high quality air quality data near oil and gas development activities.”

Reaser said the work by CSU and Air Resource Specialists is intended to “complement the existing air quality monitoring efforts that this county has been fully committed to for several years now.”


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