Sunday, February 03, 2008

Our Clean Air Blog

Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action is moving its blogging to the Our Clean Air blog. All our old posts will continue to be here, but from here on out, Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action is blogging at Our Clean Air.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Illegal and Dangerous Loophole in Utah Targeted

UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune voiced its support for Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action's efforts in an editorial, stating:

The EPA and the state should demand that companies do whatever it takes to keep pollution within limits and to levy consistent fines when they don't. With Salt Lake Valley air getting dirtier every year, we don't have time for governmental squabbling.

Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action has taken aim to
eliminate an illegal and dangerous loophole in Utah's air quality regulations.

The move follows a successful effort to eliminate a similar loophole in Colorado last year.

And folks in Utah are taking note of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action and its efforts. Stay tuned for updates!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Where is the Post's Credibility on the Roan?

First the Denver Post wanted to open up for oil and gas drilling western Colorado's Roan Plateau. Now the Post agrees with Governor Ritter that parts of the Roan should be kept safe from drilling.

It's a welcome flip-flop. But now the Post is claiming in an editorial today, along with a fringe group of drillers, that drilling the Roan is needed to reap a "windfall" of up to $1 billion. Here's where the Post's credibility on the Roan really takes a hit.

The group claiming Colorado will make $1 billion is Americans for American Energy, a group that has been slammed by the Governor of Wyoming, drawn skepticism from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, and criticism from a number of local governments. It's a group that's run by the former disgruntled head of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association, Greg Schnacke, who, we have heard, was ousted from COGA because of his radical views and lack of credibility.

If the Denver Post thinks Americans for American Energy is credible, we're in trouble.

But that's not all. The supposed "$1 billion windfall" is claimed to be linked to bonus payments and is based on oil and gas leases on federal lands fetching $46,000 per acre in these bonuses.

Yet according to numbers of the federal Minerals Management Service, nationwide, oil and gas leasing brought in only $893 in bonus payments last year. In other words, the Denver Post thinks drilling the Roan in Colorado will bring in more bonus payments than what the entire United States brought in last year.

Not only that, but the same data shows the highest bonus payment ever received by Colorado has been $15.5 million, which came in 2006. And the Denver Post believes we have a chance to make $1 billion?

Not surprisingly, even Americans for American Energy are backing off their $1 billion claim.

But what really blows the Post's credibility out of the water is that the paper is pinning Colorado's economic future on drilling the Roan Plateau. First off, for any paper to pin Colorado's future on make believe numbers, like the $1 billion, is irresponsible.

Second, there are major problems with Colorado's tax system, it's savings, and it's fiscal priorities when it comes to oil and gas drilling, and the Post ignores these facts. As the Rocky Mountain News reported two and a half weeks ago:

Not only that, but Colorado stands to truly gain $1 billion in the next 10 years just by saving and planning better, even without drilling the Roan.

Despite it's claimed interest in looking out for Colorado's future, the Denver Post has yet to call for any reform in the way the oil and gas industry is taxed, or the way oil and gas drilling revenue is saved or distributed. Like the industry fringe, all the Post seems capable of doing is calling for more drilling.

Yet if more drilling was our salvation here in Colorado, we'd be saved by now.

Like Americans for American Energy, the Denver Post has really shown that it lacks credibility when it comes to the issue of the Roan Plateau.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Studies: Air Pollution Bad, Clean Air Good

Two studies printed in the New England Journal of Medicine earlier this month confirm yet again what many of us already know: Clean air is great!

The first study reports that exposure to traffic, and in particular diesel exhaust, can trigger asthma attacks. Not only that, but the longer the exposure, the more serious are the asthma symptoms.

The second study reports that decreased levels of PM-10 (that's particulate matter less than 10 microns in size) will improve your lung function.

Don't get us wrong though, these studies are by no means redundant. They add immensely to the growing body of knowledge about air pollution and how it affects our lives. With this knowledge, we can do something about unhealthy air pollution.

We can clear the air and know we will make a difference!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Colorado Air Division Shirks Authority to Reduce Greenhouse Gases

Governor Ritter must have forgot to tell his staff at the Air Pollution Control Division that Colorado now has a goal of reducing greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050 to help keep the climate safe.

That, or the staff is simply shirking its responsibility to keep greenhouse gases in check. Unfortunately, it seems like this may be the case.

The issue has to do with whether the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division should require new sources of air pollution to utilize best available pollution controls for greenhouse gases. Under Colorado air quality regulations, any time a source of air pollution releases 250 tons/year of any pollutant that is subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act, best available controls need to be used.

The meaning of the phrase "subject to regulation" is a bit broad, and with good reason. The rules are meant to make sure that all harmful air pollution is always kept in check.

The Air Pollution Control Division however, doesn't believe that carbon dioxide is "subject to regulation" under the Clean Air Act. It's a bit shocking. Earlier this year, the United States Supreme Court held that carbon dioxide is indeed, a harmful air pollutant subject to regulation under the Clean Air Act.

In response to comments from Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action, the Division stated that the current rules don't provide an "express" provision to regulate carbon dioxide. One would think a Supreme Court ruling would be express enough in this case. Apparently not.

And so it goes. Despite Governor Ritter's bold challenge to reduce greenhouse gases, his staff appear to be derailing progress.

With worldwide support for reducing greenhouse gases continuing to grow, one would think the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division wouldn't be so quick to dismiss an opportunity to reduce greenhouse gases. Nevertheless, they did.

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.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Colorado Misses out on $2 Billion

While the the Rocky Mountain News today reports that Colorado has missed out on $2,000,000,000 in tax money from oil and gas drilling, the Denver Post is worried that not enough land in western Colorado is being opened up for drilling.

Talk about missing the mark.

Nevermind that Colorado is making pennies off of oil and gas drilling compared to neighboring states of New Mexico and Wyoming. Nevermind that our oil and gas tax system has left Colorado with $20 million, while Wyoming has been left with $4 billion and New Mexico with $4.7 billion. Nevermind that the state of Wyoming can afford to send 70% of its high school graduates to college on scholarship because of this windfall. Nevermind that a property tax exemption for oil and gas drillers cost Colorado $200 million last year. Never mind that Colorado could make $1 billion in the next ten years, if only it would fix the way it taxes oil and gas drillers.

Nope, according to the Denver Post, the real problem is that public lands on the Roan Plateau aren't being drilled.

Sorry Denver Post, but the issue isn't whether or not public lands on the Roan Plateau should or should not be drilled, it's about whether it's good for Colorado. And with $2,000,000,000 already lost and potentially another $1,000,000,000 that may be squandered, it seems like the last thing anyone would consider good for Colorado is oil and gas drilling on the Roan Plateau.