Colorado Moms support proposed air quality rules
Western Slope families want the Air Quality Control Commission to adopt and implement common sense air quality standards that protect the air our children breathe every day.
Recognizing that oil and gas pollution can have a harmful impact on air quality and the health of children, the elderly and those with respiratory problems, Gov. Hickenlooper, several oil and gas companies, conservation nonprofits and “gas patch” families worked together on draft Air Quality Control Commission rules to minimize these emissions.
As a mom and a longtime teacher in Garfield County, I am grateful that elected officials, responsible leaders in the oil and gas industry and citizens have found a sensible compromise that protects the health of residents while allowing the energy economy to thrive.
For the sake of their kids Colorado moms want this draft rule adopted.
The new rule would have the equivalent impact of taking every car off the road in Colorado every year — 92,000 tons of harmful Volatile Organic Chemicals (VOCs) would be kept out of the air our children breathe.
Since 2000, drilling for oil and gas has doubled in Colorado, coinciding with an increase in smog-inducing air pollution around oil and gas sites — many close to our neighborhoods, schools and playgrounds.
While pollution from cars and trucks and power plants is dropping, harmful emissions from oil and gas operations are increasing. Oil and gas operations emit harmful VOCs that lead to lung-damaging ozone pollution. Large amounts of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, are also emitted.
This pollution has a huge impact on our health here on the West Slope.
Health studies have shown that exposure to high levels of ozone pollution leads to lung problems, difficulty breathing, increased susceptibility to infections and other respiratory ailments, such as asthma attacks — a leading cause of hospital visits, especially among children — and even premature deaths. These chemicals worsen and cause gastrointestinal problems and other illnesses, as well.
While the responsible companies want to do the right thing and reduce harmful air pollution, others in the oil and gas industry want to gut the proposed rule. The proposed rule would cover the whole state but many in the industry — led by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Colorado Petroleum Association — want the rule only to apply to 15 to 20 percent of the state. They want to pick and choose where to have clean air. We think controlling pollution should be something every responsible company does and clean air is something every community deserves. In addition, they want to strip the rule of the provisions that would actually reduce air pollution.
What they really want is a free pass to pollute our West Slope air. We know we have air pollution problems, but they want to emit even more pollution and make our air even dirtier.
Last fall, the grassroots network I’m affiliated with — Colorado Moms Know Best — researched the proximity of oil and gas wells to schools and found out that statewide:
• 931 oil and gas wells are within 1 mile of a school
• 139 oil and gas wells are within 2,000 feet of a school
• 26 oil and gas wells are within 1,000 feet of a school
The health of these children and other vulnerable Coloradans depends on strong rules.
It’s not too much to ask that profitable an industry where even small companies make tens of millions of dollars, to protect public health by using existing technology to:
• Detect and repair drilling leaks
• Stop natural gas venting
• Use capture technologies on storage tanks
• Disclose chemical emissions
• Have zero tolerance for methane emissions.
Moms are pleased Gov. Hickenlooper and responsible energy companies want to do the right thing for our kids’ health. We support the governor, these companies and any others that want to join in supporting the draft rule. We can’t let the others who want a free pass to pollute succeed in their efforts to gut the rule.
It has been really refreshing to see rational collaboration among the governor, industry leaders and citizens in developing the draft Air Quality Control Commission standards. I urge the Air Quality Control Commissioners to stand strong and resist all attempts to weaken the new air quality rules. After all, Colorado kids deserve the chance to breathe clean air.
Ruthann Zlogar is a substitute teacher in Carbondale and is a member of Colorado Moms Know Best, a casual network of moms and friends who are looking out for our children’s well-being by protecting Colorado’s outdoors and quality of life. For more information, visit http://coloradomomsknowbest.com.
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