“I found a cure.” These were the words of Charles H. Marsh, my great-great-grandfather, which were recorded in a pamphlet titled Colorado and Asthma published in 1874. His was one of 110 interviews of individuals who had come to Colorado specifically for the lung healing properties of our clean, dry air.* By the time Charles Marsh left Michigan in 1871, asthma prohibited him from walking even two blocks from his home to his law office, but once having settled into a new life in Fort Collins, he was able to exalt “[I] am strong and well; not a man in the region that can do more work than I can or that sleeps better nights.”
Things have changed along Colorado’s Front Range. A month ago, on August 18, the great-great-great-great grandson of Charles Marsh was born in Fort Collins. His parents check the air quality ratings on a daily basis before deciding if it is safe to take their infant son outside for a walk. The beautiful region that once advertised itself as a place where damaged lungs could heal and grow strong, is now a land where the citizens must limit their activity outdoors and where those whose lungs are compromised by age or health concerns are frequently advised to shelter inside their homes.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
And you, Commissioners, have the privilege and the responsibility to begin to set things right.
I and many other citizens of Colorado would ask you to give us regulations that put public health and safety first.
We ask you to go beyond: Monitoring of oil and gas sites should extend beyond pre-production and early production phases. New regulations for reciprocating internal combustion engines should be expanded to include engines with less than 1,000 HP.
We ask you to apply the available science: Air monitoring regulations need to follow scientifically based guidelines such as those that have been provided to you by Colorado State Methane Emissions Program. New technologies are being developed and there should be incentives for adopting improvements, but no tolerance for lagging behind.
We ask you to close the loop holes, the gaps, the waivers, the exceptions, and the variances: There should be closed top storage vessels, closed loop out loading systems, no flaring and no excuses for leaks and spills. Precise language is needed to insure regulations that are actionable, measurable, enforceable, flexible where flexibility is needed, but free of the kind of vagueness that invites fluid interpretation.
We ask for transparency: Data from monitoring should be posted for easy public access. Those who must breath the air have the right to know what is in it.
As a new grandmother, and as an individual whose family history is deeply rooted in this state, I ask that you do your part to restore to us the blue skies and clean air that should be the legacy we leave to future generations.