County agrees to support new air quality study |

County agrees to support new air quality study

John Colson
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Two of Garfield County’s three county commissioners agreed this week to support a federally funded air quality study, only a week after the board voted unanimously to discontinue a broader health study on the effects of oil and gas development in the Battlement Mesa area.

Commissioners Tom Jankovsky and Mike Samson agreed to send a letter of support for a grant application by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which is seeking a $650,000 to $700,000 grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The grant would pay for a study of air quality impacts from the oil and gas industry in Garfield County, in an effort to determine if the industry’s activities are sending pollutants or toxins into the ambient air, according to Jim Rada, the county’s environmental health manager.

Rada said the funds, which would be managed by the state health department, would pay for a three-year study that might focus on Battlement Mesa, or be applied to other parts of the county.

The Garfield County Health Department would be in charge of collecting air samples to be sent to a laboratory for analysis, Rada continued. The Colorado School of Public Health would handle community outreach meetings and write a final report outlining the study’s findings.

The Colorado School of Public Health is the same organization that was conducting a Health Impact Assessment of planned gas drilling activities in Battlement Mesa.

Known as the HIA, that study was cut short by the county commissioners on May 2, before it had been completed.

Jankovsky asked whether the School of Public Health could deliver an unbiased report in this new air quality study given the criticism surrounding the HIA.

Rada said there would be “no opportunity for bias” to mar the study, because it would be based on data from the samples of air.

Commissioner John Martin voted against the letter of support for the grant application on the grounds that it involves federal funding.

“We should not go to the federal government for funding. I don’t like using federal dollars because there are strings attached.”

Rada said it would be perhaps two and a half months before the state health department will learn whether its grant application is successful.

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