Front Range residents will get better information about air quality impacts from gas drilling, as the Bureau of Land Management has agreed to do more studies before permitting additional energy development. The studies will include a full inventory of emissions anticipated during the
next 20 years.
The agreement came as part of a court-ordered settlement of a lawsuit filed by WildEarth Guardians.
“This is a great news for clean air along the Front Range and beyond, which is increasingly at risk because of ramped up drilling and fracking,” said WildEarth Guardians climate and energy program director Jeremy Nichols. “The BLM has basically agreed to look before it leaps, which is a common sense approach to keeping people in Colorado safe from air pollution.”
WildEarth Guardians’ lawsuit challenged the Bureau of Land Management’s 2009 decision to issue 12 oil and gas leases covering 3,680 acres in Weld and Morgan Counties north of Denver. The suit challenged the BLM’s failure to address the impacts of drilling and fracking to smog levels along the Front Range of Colorado in accordance with the Clean Air Act, as well the agency’s failure to check other air pollution impacts in the region under federal environmental review laws.
Before allowing those operations to proceed, the BLM agreed to do an environmental assessment that at least covers ozone issues and incorporates data from a comprehensive emissions inventory.
Under the order the BLM has agreed to: “prepare an emissions inventory for oil and gas operations for the Royal Gorge Field Office Planning Area, which includes Weld and Morgan Counties and the Denver Metro/North Front Range 8-Hour Ozone Nonattainment Area. The inventory will include current and reasonably foreseeable emissions of specified pollutants, including ozone precursors, for a 20 year timeframe.” MORE …