Letter: Protect us from Utah
In 2014, Colorado adopted groundbreaking rules to cut ozone pollution and methane waste. In spite of those rules, here on the West Slope we continue to struggle with ozone pollution from ‘Utah’s Uintah Basin. This year Rio Blanco County, which is part of the Uintah, received an F rating from the American Lung Association.
Statistics for the county show that more than 570 children and adults suffer from asthma and more than 300 people have cardiovascular disease. A 2013 industry-funded study plus the Air Quality Control Commission’s own reports acknowledge that the pollution is caused by oil and gas development in Utah.
Rio Blanco County is not alone. Even though drilling activity has been on the decline locally, Mesa and Garfield counties still struggle with ozone pollution. Ozone pollution and methane waste do not respect state or county borders. If you’ve ever seen the massive brown haze above the Uintah Basin, it’s not hard to imagine strong west winds whipping that pollution across Rio Blanco and Mesa counties and then spreading it over Garfield County.
The BLM last month finalized the Methane and Waste Prevention Rule to reduce flaring and venting associated with oil and gas development on all federal and tribal lands. For those of us on the West Slope, the BLM recommendations represent our only protection from the brown clouds of pollution blowing in our direction from the Uintah Basin. In addition to protecting public health, the rule will prevent waste of natural gas resources and help reduce the overall impact of methane emissions on climate change.
On behalf of West Slope citizens, I call upon Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner to recognize these benefits and uphold the BLM rule by supporting these reasonable safeguards as a means of responsible stewardship of our public lands.