Sorry, GarCo, Air Pollution Doesn’t Respect Borders

Garfield County commissioners Mike Samson, John Martin, and Tom Jankovsky.

It’s a story that’s been out of the headlines for some time now with the crush of other news, but we wanted to briefly touch on a lawsuit filed by big oil and gas producing rural counties led by the oh-so politically high profile Republican threesome on the Garfield County Board of Commissioners, Mike Samson, John Martin and Tom Jankowsky. Recapping from the Glenwood Springs Post-Independent’s story on this suit back in March:

“The Air Quality Control Commission is required to analyze the economic impacts, and they didn’t do that,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in an interview. “We have banded together to provide a rural voice for the public welfare, environmental concerns and economic viability of our communities.”

…Garfield County has around 11,000 active wells, and some of them nearing the end of operational life, Jankovsky said.

“It would be a crime to have to shut those down because the air quality rules make them not economical to run. The rules cost more than the gas they’re producing on an annual basis,” Jankovsky said.

Garfield County hopes the lawsuit will result in striking down four aspects of the new rules the county says would be overly burdensome on oil and gas operators, and contribute little to improved air quality.

As the Grand Junction Sentinel’s Dennis Webb reported, these counties with lots of oil and gas extraction are essentially arguing that the state should cut them a break on air pollution regulations–because they have so much air pollution it would be uneconomical to stop polluting! If that sounds directly counter to the point of passing said regulations, that’s because it is:

“Rather than regulating for all Coloradoans, as the Air Pollution Prevention Control Act requires, the Air Quality Control Commission took a one-size-fits-all approach that assumed its new regulations would impose roughly equal costs on all Coloradoans. That assumption was false,” the suit says. “The diversity of Colorado’s economy — and, in particular, the heavy reliance many western and rural counties place on oil and gas activity — means those counties will bear a disproportionate share of the costs of the Commission’s increased regulation.”

Well yes, that’s inevitable, the counties with air pollution are are going to be most “impacted” by regulations to reduce air pollution! Forgive our incredulity, it is not our purpose here to make light of legitimate fiscal dependencies and burdens that may exist in different areas of the state. But it’s not even a little bit surprising that oil and gas producing regions are going to have a bigger job cleaning up their act than areas of the state that do not emit vast quantities of air pollution. The goal of reducing air pollution across Colorado–and that is the state’s avowed policy goal backed by a lopsided electoral mandate in 2018–is not served by exempting areas of the state precisely because they are major pollution sources.

In fact, everywhere outside the boardroom of an oil and gas company (and a few very accommodating county commissioners) this whole business is quite silly. Air pollution doesn’t respect county borders, or for that matter any other border. So in essence, Garfield County is arguing that it has a right to make the rest of Colorado breathe their dirty air. Given the statewide political and environmental implications for this suit, we’ll be watching closely as the legal system grinds back into gear.

18 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. The realist says:

    Don't write a story about the Garco Commissioners without mentioning their recent decision to spend (at least) $500,000 of oil/gas impact funds to help the industry influence the writing of the new state rules to help the oily boys. Per the article they've spent $1.5 million since 2019 to fight state rules.

    The Garco Commissioners are in effect inside the boardrooms of oil and gas. And because the Garco Commissioners do not have term limits, they've each made careers out of working for the fossilonians while the taxpayers pay their salaries and benefits. 

  2. JohnInDenver says:

    Anyone have information on the calculations backing up ideas "the county says would be overly burdensome on oil and gas operators, and contribute little to improved air quality"?  

    How burdensome on industry?  How little improvement?  and how are they calculating the burden of a diminished air quality? 

  3. Diogenesdemar says:

    Jesus, hasn’t Ttump learned ya’ yokels nuthin’? . . .

    . . . If you want to get serious about stopping all the air pollution, just stop all the damn testing!  And, if you gotta’ pretend to test, then by all means lie, lie, lie about the results.

    Fuxsakes, this ain’t like it’s picking out the picture of the elephant difficult . . .


  4. RepealAndReplace says:

    Whatever happened to my favorite commissioner, Beastiality Rant Rowland?

    • Duke Cox says:

      That was Mesa co.    but she is still around.

    • gertie97 says:

      Not only is she still around, she's running for commissioner again. That $95,000 paycheck is a siren song for her. She faces a more-than-competent Democrat in November.

      But this is Mesa County. Rowland came out late for Calamity Jane and supports her full bore. A Democratic victory in this hotbed of trumpism would be an upset of historic proportions.

      We can dream, though, that former city councilor Dave Edwards might, just might, squeak  past Rowland. But it's not the way to bet.

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