Public comment period for updated Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment open
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
A report about how gas drilling might affect the health of residents of Battlement Mesa has been reissued, with revisions and updates, for a month-long public comment period.
The comment period on the revised Battlement Mesa Health Impact Assessment Report will be open through March 28, at 5 p.m.
The final report is to be released on April 30, and public hearings about its contents are to be held in May, according to a schedule on Garfield County’s website.
The report, written by the University of Colorado at Denver School of Public Health, is available on the county public health website, http://www.garfield-county.com.
In order for comments to be considered for inclusion in the final version, they must be submitted according to the process outlined on the website, according to a statement issued by the county’s environmental health director, Jim Rada.
The study, commissioned by the Garfield County commissioners last year, was the subject of an initial report, which was issued and opened to public comment in September 2010.
The oil and gas industry and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment quickly submitted critical comments, questioning the methodology used to write the report and some of its conclusions.
Commissioner John Martin indicated at a public meeting in December that he felt the study was providing ammunition to critics of the industry, locally and nationally, who argue that gas drilling activities can harm the health of people living nearby.
Martin instructed Dr. Roxana Witter, lead scientist of the study, to take the time needed to consider the comments and issue a revised report.
“Please make the document something that we can rely on,” Martin told her. “We’re not looking for a political tool on either side [or] for national political rhetoric.”
Former county commissioner Tresi Houpt, however, objected to Martin’s criticism of the initial report
“I don’t think it is” a political tool, said Houpt. “We need to be very careful … to make sure the integrity of the document is protected and the true health opinion is brought forward.”
Since the issuance of the original report, residents of Battlement Mesa have cited its findings as evidence that plans for drilling up to 200 wells from 9 surface pads in their community pose significant health hazards.
The drilling plan, by Antero Resources, has not yet been submitted to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, according to Judy Jordan, the county’s oil and gas liaison.
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