Although new rules proposed by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will help protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the land we live on, Garfield County Commissioners Larry McCown and John Martin reportedly don’t like them (see May 6th story, “Garfield County doesn’t like gas rules”). That’s a shame.
The new rules would make sure oil and gas drilling operations within a half mile of peoples’ homes use up-to-date air pollution controls. They would make sure that pits filled with hazardous fluids be properly lined to prevent groundwater contamination.
The new rules would also make sure that drillers plan ahead to prevent and control spills and harmful runoff. Better planning could have helped prevent the recent spills of over one million gallons of drilling fluids into Parachute Creek.
And the new rules promise a payback. They would ensure “green completions” are used to capture hazardous gases otherwise released into the air when a well is drilled. Williams Production, a western Colorado gas producer, makes nearly $9 for every $1 spent on green completions.
But the payback of healthy, thriving communities is priceless. More often than not, it costs more to clean up messes ” like drilling fluids in Parachute Creek ” than it costs to prevent them. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
For the health and prosperity of Garfield County and all of Colorado, Commissioners McCown and Martin should get behind the proposed oil and gas rules, not stand in their way.
Jeremy Nichols, director, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action
I want to sincerely thank representative Bernie Buescher and Senator Josh Penry for their work on the oil and gas evaporative waste pit legislation ” HB 1414. The oil and gas industry in northwestern Colorado produces a large amount of waste fluid.
This fluid contains drilling muds and hydraulic fracturing fluids, along with waste water and petrochemicals that are produced as a by-product of natural gas drilling.
This potentially harmful waste needs to be disposed of in state-approved facilities that provide protections for our air, water, and the health of nearby residents.
One method to dispose of the waste is to dump it into commercial evaporation ponds. These ponds can be acres in size and often use large water misters to speed up evaporation. Over the past year there have been two new evaporative waste facilities proposed just outside of DeBeque ” a few hundred feet from homes. Thanks to the leadership of Rep. Buescher and Sen. Penry, these ill-conceived proposals are no longer a threat to those Mesa County residents. Among other provisions, the legislation provides a minimum set-back requirement of one-half mile from homes and requires the use of synthetic liners to protect ground water sources.
Communities throughout Colorado that are experiencing gas drilling should be thankful for these common-sense protections and the leadership Rep. Buescher and Sen. Penry have shown on this issue.
Duke Cox, chair, Western Colorado Congress Oil and Gas Committee
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