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Colorado Clean Air Enforcement Initiative in Full Gear

WildEarth Guardians Stepping up Efforts to Rein Oil and Gas Industry Air Pollution Along Front Range

WildEarth Guardians’ efforts to hold the oil and gas industry accountable to clean air and public health along Colorado’s Front Range is kicking into high gear with several recent wins for air quality and public health.

As we’ve reported, this year we launched our Colorado Front Range Oil and Gas Clean Air Enforcement initiative, a concerted campaign to confront the oil and gas industry’s air pollution in the Denver Metro Area and surrounding communities.

Our aim is to expose the true clean air costs of oil and gas, turn the tide against fracking, and start keeping fossil fuels in the ground where they belong. We’re doing that in four ways:

  • Confronting Federal Fracking Approvals
  • Forcing Environmental Protection Agency Sanctions
  • Securing Clean Air Justice in the Courts
  • Challenging Illegal Air Pollution Permits 

So far, we’re getting off to a great start. In fact, just iIn the past week, we’ve made some major strides in our campaign.

First, we helped defeat an industry-led effort to derail smog clean up along Colorado’s Front Range.

Earlier this year, industry had mounted campaign to pressure state air regulators to blame the region’s smog pollution on China and other international sources of air pollution. If successful, their effort could have derailed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sanctions that are needed to guarantee clean up of the region’s air pollution.

In detailed comments to the Air Quality Control Commission, we exposed how industry’s scheme was not legally allowed or justified. Ultimately, at the urging of Colorado Governor Jared Polis, the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission rejected industry’s requests.

That’s great news for the region’s clean air and health.

Second, we overturned the Trump Administration’s approval of dozens of fracking wells in the Denver Metro Area.

Confronting federal fracking approvals is a key component of our Colorado Front Range Oil and Gas Clean Air Enforcement Initiative. Throughout the Front Range, the federal government has a role in approving extensive oil and gas development because of public lands and publicly owned minerals in the region.

Last week, we scored a major victory in this area. Climate and Energy Program Attorney Becca Fischer overturned the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s approval of 38 new oil and gas wells that would have fracked under the City of Brighton, which is north of Denver

In response to an appeal of the drilling, the Bureau of Land Management held its officials illegally ignored comments from WildEarth Guardians and set aside the fracking decisions.

That’s more great news for the region’s clean air and health.

Finally, we mobilized major support for clean air justice.

In February, we put seven oil and gas companies on notice of our intent to sue them for failing to comply with Clean Air Act permitting requirements.

And last week, U.S. Representative Diana DeGette, who represents Colorado’s 1st Congressional District, called on Colorado Governor Polis to investigate our claims and ensure the oil and gas industry is fully complying with clean air laws along the Front Range.

In a letter to the Governor, Representative DeGette stated:

I write today to express my concern regarding allegations that several oil and gas companies are routinely violating federal law by drilling in Colorado without first obtaining the required Clean Air Act permits.

– U.S. Representative Diana Degette

That’s some major progress for clean air and public health in Colorado. Most importantly, that’s some major progress for reining in the oil and gas industry, defending communities from fracking, and safeguarding our climate.

Stay tuned for more as our Colorado Front Range Oil and Gas Clean Air Enforcement Initiative continues to gain momentum!

Jeremy Nichols

About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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