Sat April 28, 2012

Erie Seeks to Ease Residents' Air Pollution Concerns

Local officials in Erie say an analysis by an environmental firm hired by the town has concluded there are no immediate public health impacts from a recent rise in emissions coming from oil and gas wells in and around the community east of Boulder. 

Scientists with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association in Boulder had detected signs of elevated levels of propane.  Their findings were presented during a recent town meeting. 

"When NOAA tells us you have elevated levels of propane that are higher than places like Houston or Pasadena California, we needed an answer to that question and no one could give us that answer," said Fred Diehl, assistant to the town administrator.   

Diehl said the firm the town hired to peer-review the preliminary NOAA data found that the propane levels were a thousand-fold below the threshold deemed to be a health concern.

"That’s great, but it doesn’t stop the town from continuing to seek full recovery of VOC emissions from oil and gas operations," he said. "That’s our charge."

The EPA recently implemented a related national rule but gave companies until 2015 to comply.

Erie is currently in the middle of a 180 day drilling moratorium while the town is asking oil and gas companies to voluntarily install emissions capturing equipment at their wells.  The town is one of many local governments along the Front Range that have implemented temporary moratoriums.