Saturday letters: Air quality and quarry expansion
Speak up about tougher air quality standards
All of us who live in Western Colorado have a lot at stake in the upcoming decisions from the Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) about air quality and methane regulations for oil and gas development. And we have a chance for our voices to be heard on Dec. 10 from 6-8 p.m. at Rifle City Hall, where the AQCC will take public comment.
The AQCC is considering strong new regulations that will cut emissions from wells, storage tanks and other infrastructure associated with oil and gas development. One question is whether some of the most important regulations will be applied statewide, or only on the Front Range.
Although most of the oil and gas production has been in western Garfield County — nearly 12,000 wells altogether — air knows no boundaries and pollution from one area can affect another. Thus all Garfield County residents should support better pollution standards for the oil and gas industry.
Odors are the number one complaint in Battlement Mesa, where there are nearly 500 wells in and around the community. Some residents have complained about health impacts such as respiratory problems, unexplained nose bleeds, and headaches during the drilling and fracking process. By requiring the industry to do more leak detection for benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and repairing those leaks in a timely manner could help diminish these symptoms.
A recent state health department study now recommends that oil and gas facilities be located 2,000 ft away from occupied buildings and homes to reduce exposure from carcinogenic chemicals, but like in the case of Battlement Mesa, some of the 24 well pads have already been built closer.
Fossil fuel development is also the primary source of methane emissions, which in turn is a major source of climate change. Another reason to tell the AQCC to pass stronger air quality regulations.
Please come to Rifle on Dec. 10 and speak up about the need for tougher air quality standards for our county, the Western Slope and our state.
Leslie Robinson, Chair Grand Valley Citizens Alliance
RMR quarry expansion not the economic expansion we need
Northwest Colorado is on the verge of an economic transition; we must embrace this transition. That means our local and state governments working with stakeholders to retain our jobs during this transition while creating new jobs in multiple fields and preserving our communities for our children and their children.
Recently Rocky Mountain Resources has claims that an expansion of the quarry will lead to economic growth and diversification. If this is true, at what expense? RMR believes that there will 100 new jobs. That is good, but it will come at the cost of 2,000 jobs already in the community. That math doesn’t work for me. Nor does the environmental impact of the quarry expansion meet with the needs and desires of Glenwood springs. In fact, RMR cannot tell us what the full negative effects of the expansion will be because for them it doesn’t matter. They will exploit the town and then leave us with the mess they created.
Economic expansion and diversification will have some negative impacts in the future, but if done the right way there will be substantially greater positive effects on the community. Yes, through diversification some jobs will be lost, but through sound ideas those jobs will be replaced with more jobs that are sustainable and higher paying. That is the kind of economic growth we must embrace, not the type that kills 20x the jobs it creates.
I stand with the city and county in fighting against RMR.
If you want to learn more about our campaign and ideas for the future, join us at River Blend Coffee on Monday, Dec. 16, from 6-7:30 p.m. for a conversation about the issues and a toy drive. Bring an unwrapped toy for donation, all toys will go to the River Center in New Castle.
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