Thursday, December 20, 2007

State, Feds Look Other Way on Lawless Oil and Gas Drilling

Although Colorado's clean air laws prohibit anyone from building a source of air pollution without a permit, one oil and gas company seems to think it's above the law.

That company is Plains Exploration and Production. And right now, the company is building a giant natural gas compressor station in far eastern reaches of Mesa County of western Colorado in an area called "Alkali Creek." The company is building the compressor station, even though the company has yet to get a permit from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

This may not seem that serious, but the facts of this situation are pretty disturbing. For example, the federal Bureau of Land Management, which gave Plains Exploration and Production a special use permit to build the compressor station has actually known the company was illegally constructing the facility since last November. A friend of ours with the Wilderness Workshop reports:

DJ Beaupeurt at the BLM confirmed that construction has been ongoing for some time. The compressors are supposed to be up and running w/in 1 month. I asked whether it was standard BLM procedure to allow ground work before final permits have been issued. DJ said that she had the draft permits in hand and that all permits were supposed to be finalized before the plant was up and running.
In other words, the BLM is actually letting oil and gas drillers build their compressor stations before they get final permits. That's like letting someone drive before they get their driver's license.

Not only that, but the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division itself told Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action that Plains Exploration and Production was violating Colorado clean air laws by building without an air pollution permit. Guess what they're going to do? They told us over the phone that they're actually going to allow them to keep building and possibly fine them at a later date.

In other words, Plains Exploration and Production is in the midst of violating clean air laws, yet the BLM is condoning this behavior and the State of Colorado is looking the other way.

And as if that wasn't bad enough, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action and a number of other groups filed scathing comments over the permits. Plains Exploration and Production should actually be denied air pollution permits because it's compressor station will release massive amounts of harmful air pollution, in violation of clean air laws. Consider the fact that the compressor station will annually release over 80,000 pounds of benzene, which is known to cause cancer.

With the federal government urging oil and gas drillers to violate the law and the State of Colorado turning its back on such lawlessness, it's no wonder people are outraged. On the heels of last week's Beyond the Boom series in the Rocky Mountain News, this incident only bolsters calls for reforming the oil and gas industry.

Once again, clean air loses while lawless oil and gas drilling prevails. While State and federal officials should be ashamed of themselves, it's the oil and gas drillers who are truly to blame.


Post a Comment

<< Home