By David O. Williams -- March 18, 2011
U.S. Rep. Jared Polis on Thursday followed up his reintroduction this week of the FRAC Act — which would tighten federal regulation of natural gas drilling’s impacts to water quality — with the BREATHE Act, a bill that would remove two exemptions for gas drilling under the Clean Air Act.The huge spike in natural gas production in the United States over the last decade or so has brought air and water quality issues to the forefront in some unexpected places – like scenic Pinedale, Wyo., which recently saw several major drilling companies temporarily shut down operations because of ozone alerts. Polis, in a release Thursday, cited the Wyoming situation.
But closer to home, Garfield County – second only to Weld County in terms of Colorado drilling activity – has been the scene of intense public debate about air quality standards. Air quality is a major focus of an ongoing health impact assessment paid for by the county and in many ways colors the debate over major new drilling proposals in and around subdivisions in Silt and Battlement Mesa.