Judge upholds Colorado air quality rules for oil, gas sites

A drilling rig north of Parachute drills several wells from one pad in July 2014. Wilderness Workshop will keep a close eye on the Trump administration's direciton on opening public lands for oil and gas extraction.
Aspen Times file photo |

DENVER (AP) — A Denver district judge has dismissed a lawsuit by Weld County challenging new state regulations designed to cut oil and gas industry emissions.

District Judge Michael Martinez granted a motion by the state to dismiss the case, agreeing with state attorneys that the rules, adopted under a 2019 law that emphasizes public safety and the environment over fossil fuels energy production, don’t pose a threat to Weld County’s economy, The Denver Post reported Friday.

Martinez found that when it comes to air quality regulations, the state Air Quality Control Commission has precedence over the county.

Weld County is home to nearly half of Colorado’s 52,000 active oil and gas wells, and county Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer has said the local industry paid nearly $500 million in property taxes in 2019.

The air commission’s rules went into effect in February to help implement the 2019 law. The rules include increased inspections of well sites and equipment.

“We will continue to aggressively pursue new rules and regulations that reduce emissions of greenhouse gases and air pollutants,” said Andrew Bare, spokesman for Colorado’s Air Pollution Control Division.

Weld County’s attorney and commissioners are reviewing the decision, county spokeswoman Jennifer Finch said.

Ten other counties in western and rural Colorado, including Garfield and Mesa counties, have a similar lawsuit pending against the state challenging air quality rules.

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