Comments made to County Commissioners 5/11/21

Copy of written version of my comments to Larimer County Commissioners on May 11, 2021:

Dear Commissioners and Staff:

I opened my spoken remarks with a bit of humor about a needle stuck in a vinyl record’s groove. But like the famous broken record I will once more address the issue of air quality, and how it is affected by oil and gas development in Northern Colorado. The industry, particularly where it is based in Weld County, would have us believe they run a tight act, and really the air quality around Greeley is just fine. . . 

And that is possibly so, although I wouldn’t accept at face value that it is because all the operators are doing everything they can to control emissions from their drilling pads, well sites, and storage facilities. The sad truth is that our general weather conditions may see our storm systems move from West to East, but our daytime prevailing winds blow upslope from East to West. The worst effects will frequently stack our bad air quality right against the foothills. 

I want to strongly urge the need for comprehensive, real time continuous regional air quality monitoring. The canister sensors proposed in the revised County oil and gas regulations may help home in on incidents and problems at particular sites. But to understand the chronic issue, the most effective and detailed monitoring available is of the type utilized by Detlev Helmig’s Boulder Air. This outfit can pick out the specific chemical signatures to differentiate what pollution comes from vehicles and other industrial sources, and what comes off a faulty drilling rig or processing unit. 

I have sent email versions of this message to you and County staff including links to a webinar coming up on May 19 entitled What Is In Our Air? Dr. Helmig will speak about his research and continued monitoring done for Boulder County, the City of Longmont, City and County of Broomfield, and other entities. Andrew Klooster of Earthworks will also present his fieldwork using optical gas imaging to track the emissions from oil and gas facilities. They can highlight the value of this sort of monitoring. It is expensive, but it is the sort of thing Larimer County could do in collaboration with its cities, state agencies, and research institutions. I understand Matt Sura, your consulting attorney on oil and gas rules revision, will be touring one of Boulder Air’s facilities, which I think is a positive sign. This is all critical information to have. . . and to act upon. Thank you. 

What Is In Our Air? 

This event will be put on by the Longmont Climate Community



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