February 14, 2008

Big Wins for Clean Air in the Rockies

In the last week, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action has scored two big wins for clean air.

The first was last week, when the Environmental Protection Agency ruled that the State of Colorado needed to rethink exempting thousands of oil and gas wells from clean air safeguards. The ruling comes in response to a petition from Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action. Under the Clean Air Act, sources of air pollution that are connected and interrelated need to be regulated together, not piecemeal.

Despite this, thousands of oil and gas wells are regulated individually, even though they are connected to larger facilities (like compressor stations) and collectively add up to a significant source of air pollution. The EPA's ruling could mean the advent of stronger clean air safeguards across the entire Rocky Mountain region.

And just yesterday, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action learned that it successfully halted a plan that would have vented billions of cubic feet of methane (also known as natural gas) from a coal mine in western Colorado. Methane is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas, not to mention the fact that its enormously wasteful to vent the gas. The amount of methane proposed for venting would have been enough to heat 35,000 homes for 12 years.

Responding to a challenge from Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action, the U.S. Forest Service reversed its own decision, ordering its local officials to more closely look at ways to control the methane.

We're hard at work on the frontlines, and it's paying off for our clean air and our climate. Happy Valentine's Day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Two success stories in one week!! The folks on the western slope especially appreciate any mitigation of air pollution from the oil and gas industry, and we definitely don't need the release of mine methane emissions when the gas could be captured as an energy source. I have lived on the western slope for almost 30 years, and the deterioration of the air quality between Glenwood Springs and Debeque Canyon has been dramatic over the last two years. We applaud your successes in keeping our Colorado skies clear and blue.