Public forum is set to discuss Grand Valley’s air pollution problem |

Public forum is set to discuss Grand Valley’s air pollution problem

Sharon Sullivan
This photo was taken in the Grand Valley on Jan. 7, 2013, during a cold air inversion in which pollutants become trapped when a warmer air mass moves over cooler air.
Colo. Dept. of Public Health and Environment Air Pollution Control Division |


WHAT: “What’s in the Air?” — a community discussion on air quality in the Grand Valley.

Public forum will include effects of air pollution on human health, the economy and the community

WHERE: Grand Junction City Hall Auditorium, 250 N. 5th St.

WHEN: Monday, Sept. 23, 7-9 p.m.

INFO: 970-242-1054

As the winter season approaches and with it the possibility of toxic cold air inversions that often occur in the Grand Valley, a public forum to discuss the issue with air-quality specialists is scheduled for 7-9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at Grand Junction City Hall Auditorium.

Last winter, the Grand Valley experienced a “record-breaking 11 days of national air quality standard violations due to high levels of particulates and other known pollutants such as nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds and methane,” said Karen Sjoberg, of Citizens for Clean Air, the organization sponsoring the public discussion along with Alpine Bank and the League of Women Voters of Mesa County.

Both residents and government officials are invited to meet with a panel of air quality specialists to discuss what many say is a growing problem in the valley.

Ed Brotsky, Mesa County Health Department air quality specialist, will give an overview of pollutants and known sources.

Dr. David Scott of the Allergy and Asthma Center of Western Colorado will address human health effects from air pollution.

“It’s been well studied, recognized and accepted in the medical community that air pollution is a contributor to asthma exacerbations and emergency room visits for asthma,” Scott said.

Glade Park resident and professor emeritus at University of Illinois Gerald Nelson will speak about effects of air pollution on agriculture.

And, Teresa Coons, Western Slope representative on the Air Quality Control Commission, will talk about possible new regulations regarding the oil and gas industry, a known contributor to air pollution.

For the past year, the Air Pollution Control Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has held stakeholder meetings regarding potential changes in regulations governing the natural gas industry, Coons said.

In October, the APCD will present its proposal to the Air Quality Control Commission, the entity responsible for creating regulations in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency guidelines.

If the Air Quality Control Commission decides to modify the rules, public hearings and a 90-day comment period will take place followed by an official hearing in February when the final decision would be made.

“The natural gas industry certainly is a contributor to emissions in the air,” Coons said. “A study that came out yesterday (Tuesday), funded by the natural gas industry and the Environmental Defense Fund show the big concern is that oil and gas (production) releases a lot of methane in the air — which is not only a toxin to human health, but also impacts global warming — more than carbon dioxide.”

The good news, however, is less methane is released than what was previously reported, Coons added.

Some oil and gas companies are already taking known measures to reduce air pollution, Coons said. New regulations would make those efforts mandatory for all firms, she said.

The League of Women Voters will moderate a question and answer session during the Monday public discussion at city hall.

Citizens for Clean Air is a Grand Valley organization dedicated to improving air quality for the benefit of health, environment and economy.

League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan organization that encourages informed and active participation in government and influences public policy through education and advocacy.

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