Colorado to study Front Range oil and gas pollution

The state of Colorado said Wednesday that it will launch a $1.3 million study this summer of pollution tied to oil and gas development, including assessing possible health effects.

The study will look at emissions in areas along the northern Front Range. A second phase of the study will assess possible health effects using information collected in the first phase.

Testimony at Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission hearings this week reinforced the views of both industry and environment experts that “more and better science is needed related to oil and gas emissions,” the state said in a statement.

“This study marks another important step in our aggressive efforts to ensure oil and gas development is conducted with the highest standards of environmental protection,´ said Mike King, executive director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. “We know that strong regulation and strong science build public confidence in this economically critical industry, one that provides thousands of jobs and energy that we all depend upon every day.”

The oil and gas commission approved groundwater monitoring rules Monday. Hearings on increasing distances between occupied buildings and oil and gas wells continued Wednesday.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment will contract with CSU for the study, in a similar way it has on an ongoing CSU-led study of oil and gas emissions in Garfield County.

The first phase of the study will cover a three-year period from July 2013 to June 2016. The second phase to develop a health-risk assessment will begin in January 2016.

Gov. John Hickenlooper will seek $1.3 million from the Joint Budget Committee for the study’s initial funding, which would come from an oil and gas commission fund supported by energy development.

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