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Commissioners offer to partner with CDPHE and COGCC on air quality monitoring

Posted on 10/30/2019
Commissioners offer to partner with CDPHE and COGCC on air quality monitoring“Weld County has been, and we are, committed to protecting air quality, and the health of the individuals who are involved in the industry, and our citizens,” said Commissioner Chair Barbara Kirkmeyer at today’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) meeting held in Denver.

Kirkmeyer and County Attorney Bruce Barker attended the meeting to propose a partnership between the county, the COGCC, and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) with regard to obtaining accurate real-time air quality data.

The request comes after CDPHE released a state-funded study regarding a health risk assessment for oil and gas operations in Colorado. That study stated, “…exposure to chemicals used in oil and gas development, such as benzene, may cause short-term negative health impacts (e.g., headaches; dizziness; respiratory, skin, and eye irritation) during “worst-case” conditions.”

The study, however, used data collected between 2014-2016. Since that time, technological advances in the industry have been implemented to restrict the release of emissions and improvements in drilling practices have been made.

“Weld County does support additional monitoring and modeling of pre-production activities at oil and gas well sites,” said Kirkmeyer. “In fact, the board was looking into a process and potentially funding more testing and a study on our own. So to that end, we feel it would be more financially prudent and would lend to more credibility and integrity to the process if we were to partner with the state – both the commission and the department of health. I’m here this morning to offer Weld County’s resources and active participation to partner with the commission, and the other operators, and the health department in the planning for and implementation of additional monitoring and modeling of pre-production activities at oil and gas sites.

“We would hope you would consider Weld County a partner. Our interest is purely to ensure that concerns regarding the health and welfare of our citizens, and citizens of the state, are responsibly addressed through 1) sound scientific and technological efforts to 2) gather high-quality real-time data for 3) use in appropriate modeling and risk analysis that is second to none.”

Kirkmeyer reminded the commission that Weld County leads the state in energy production, and that during the last 10 years, while the number of active wells has gone from 15,000 to approximately 21,000 and the population has increased by 100,000, the county has also seen a 20% reduction in ozone emissions.

Kirkmeyer requested an opportunity to further discuss Weld County’s proposal.