What's at Stake
After strong safety laws for oil and gas drilling were issued in Colorado, industry fought hard to undo them. Earthjustice defended the important rules and continues working to ensure they are strengthened.
In 2007, after an extensive process that involved input from conservationists, ranchers, hunters and businesses, the Colorado Oil and Gas Commission proposed rules to ensure safer oil and gas drilling in the state. The oil and gas industry quickly bit back, challenging the rules as flawed despite having had ample opportunity to participate in their creation.
Earthjustice defended the balanced, common sense rules, which create critical protections for public health, air and water quality and sensitive wildlife. In the years since the rules were issued and challenged by industry, there have been positive developments—requirements to disclose chemicals used in fracking and promising efforts to reduce air pollution such as methane and volatile organic compounds, for example. Nonetheless, more work remains, so Earthjustice is continuing its legal campaign to ensure all oil and gas drilling in the state is done transparently, safely and in accordance with the law.
Colorado is considering making changes to its air pollution regulations that would include raising the allowable threshold from two to twenty-five tons of emissions per year, loosening requirements for pollution reporting.
"We need to get numbers as to what the impact of the permitting change would be," said Earthjustice attorney Mike Freeman. "If we're trying to get control of emissions from the oil and gas sector, we don't want to undercut that effort by removing a whole bunch of sources from air permitting requirements."