Monday, November 06, 2006

Enforcement Report: Oil and Gas Industry (and Coors) Has Been Bad

The Colorado Air Pollution Control Division recently posted their summary of enforcement actions for the 3rd quarter of 2006. Of the 43 enforcement cases reported, 23 are against oil and gas companies or related to oil and gas development. The oil and gas enforcement cases of note: three cases are against Williams Production, one of the largest natural gas producers in western Colorado, and one is against the City and County of Denver.

It's disappointing to see the City and County of Denver cited for violating air pollution control regulations related to oil and gas development, especially given that the Mayor's Greenprint Denver plan calls for reducing air pollution emissions. This raises two questions: If the City and County of Denver aim to reduce air pollution, (1) What are they doing drilling for oil and gas? and (2) What are they doing violating air pollution control regulations? Mayor Hickenlooper has some explaining to do.

It's even more disappointing to see so many oil and gas companies cited for air pollution violations. There appears to be a culture of apathy among the oil and gas industry when it comes to protecting people from air pollution.

Take Williams, for example. One of the enforcement cases listed involves emissions of toxic smog forming compounds from waste pits, such as the ones pictured below. These pits are constructed solely to evaporate poisonous compounds into the air we breathe, yet Colorado air quality regulations clearly prohibit this practice. Williams either wasn't aware of this regulation or simply ignored it. Either way, Williams contempt toward clean air is placing families and communities at risk of cancer and other illnesses.

As a final note, it's important to point out that Coors Brewing was the subject of enforcement action from the Air Pollution Control Division in October. Amazingly, earlier in October, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment named Coors Brewing as a "Colorado Environmental Leader." What a joke. Coors Brewing wouldn't know environmental protection, and especially air pollution control, if it bit it in the behind.


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