Under threat of being sued by conservation groups, Kerr-McGee has agreed to a consent decree with the federal government and state of Colorado that requires it to drastically reduce air pollutants at its gas production facilities in Colorado and Utah.
The consent decree was filed in federal court Thursday (May 17) by the U.S. Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, and State of Colorado.
“The federal government described the decree as the first comprehensive Clean Air Act settlement to reduce harmful emissions and conserve natural gas at production facilities in those states,” said Nicholas Persampieri, attorney for Earthjustice, a non-profit environmental defense organization
“Kerr-McGee has been polluting the air with hazardous substances that are bad for our health, even though there are affordable options to control this pollution,” said Sharon Buccino of the Natural Resources Defense Council. “The government did the right thing, and should now take further steps to ensure that the oil and gas industry doesn’t continue to endanger Colorado and Utah families.”
“The amount of natural gas (methane) leaked by industry to the atmosphere is staggering. In many cases, companies would profit from capturing the leaking methane. Hopefully, the government’s settlement is a first-step toward addressing this waste of precious gas resources, which fouls the air and contributes to global warming,” said Jeremy Nichols of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action.
On March 20, 2007 Earthjustice, on behalf of Rocky Mountain Clean Air Action and the Natural Resources Defense Council, issued a 60-day notice of intent to sue Kerr-McGee for failing to install required air pollution control equipment on 11 massive engines at four separate compressor stations in Weld County, Colorado. The required controls are important to ongoing efforts to reduce ozone levels affecting the health of Denver area residents.
The decree, which still must be approved in federal court, requires Kerr-McGee to install equipment to reduce annual emissions of air pollutants by more than 3,000 tons in Colorado and 2,500 tons in Utah, pay a $200,000 civil penalty, and spend $250,000 on environmentally beneficial projects.
The decree agreement was reached just days before Earthjustice was poised to file suit.