State Set to Take First Big Step to Rein in Fracking Industry’s Toxic Air Pollution

This week and part of next, a series of public events are set to unfold that will advance efforts to safeguard clean air and rein in the fracking industry’s toxic air pollution in Colorado. You can show up, speak out, and help make a difference!

Billed as a “Week of Action for Clean Air in Colorado,” WildEarth Guardians will be joining a coalition of allies to show up on the frontlines and ensure strong, new rules are adopted that put Colorado on the path for clean air, a safe climate, and healthy communities.

To really win, we need your help! Everyone in Colorado has a chance to engage. Below is the schedule of events. Scroll down even further for more background info.

Week of Action for Clean Air in Colorado!

If you can’t show up to one or more of these events, then at least sign our petition calling on Colorado Governor Jared Polis to get behind stronger clean air rules, including a ban on flaring!

Flaring at an oil and gas well east of Denver.

More Background

The oil and gas industry’s toxic emissions are not only fueling dangerous levels of ground-level ozone, particularly along the Front Range, but also threatening communities and residents with cancer-causing benzene and other harmful gases

As people suffer, industry is also fueling the climate crisis by releasing potent methane gas and using their political influence to keep society dependent on oil and gas.

It’s no wonder regulators have been blunt that current levels of fracking pollution are “not acceptable.”

Meanwhile, the Air Quality Control Commission and state health officials are finally moving to confront the industry’s toxic pollution

Spurred in large part by the passage of new state legislation that puts public health and safety ahead of the interests of the oil and gas industry, the Air Commission is weighing whether to adopt new rules to clamp down on emissions.

Deemed a “first step” to fully confronting the oil and gas industry’s pollution, the rules stand to eliminate loopholes, tighten controls, and ensure greater transparency around companies’ emissions.

The proposed rules come as report after report shows regulation is dangerously inadequate.

Colorado regulations allow oil and gas wells to be drilled and fracked in close proximity to homes.

Current rules are not only flawed, but not effectively enforced. Researchers also continue to confirm that regulators have drastically underestimated total emissions, erroneously claiming that industry’s pollution has been reduced.  

What’s more, health studies continue to confirm significant short and long-term risk to people and communities in proximity to fracking sites

Compounding these health risks, the Denver Metro/Front Range region continues to fail to meet health standards for ozone, the key ingredient of smog.  On December 20, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will declare the area a “serious” nonattainment area for ozone.

Oil and gas extraction contributes more than 40% of the region’s ozone-forming pollution–more than any other industry.

To top it off, industry is chronically violating clean air laws, abusing a loophole that in some situations allows companies to obtain permits to frack after drilling and beginning production.

Last May, WildEarth Guardians sued seven companies in federal court under the Clean Air Act to put an end to this abuse and these widespread violations.  A hearing in this case is scheduled for this Thursday, December 12 in Denver.

There is a need for stronger clean air rules in Colorado, to eliminate loopholes, and to slash emissions.  And the Air Quality Control Commission has adopt new rules as a first step forward.

However, from our perspective, the science is clear that to truly restore clean air, the state has to wind down and ultimately phase out oil and gas extraction. 

Coupled with the need to fully safeguard public health and protect the climate, Colorado needs to ultimately get off fossil fuels.

Governor Jared Polis has said, “We have to do everything in our power right here at home to make our air cleaner and our people healthier as soon as we possibly can.” 

If the Governor is serious about clean air and health, then he has to support the Air Quality Control Commission and also push for even deeper pollution cuts and a move away from oil and gas extraction.

We’ll see how everything unfolds over the next week or so. Hopefully Colorado will take the first big step toward reining in the oil and gas industry’s toxic air pollution and set the stage to help the state transition away from fossil fuels.

Jeremy Nichols

About the Author

Jeremy Nichols | Climate and Energy Program Director, WildEarth Guardians

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