Equilibrium & Sustainability

Conservation group sues EPA over fracking smog in Colorado

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday, demanding that the agency take action to mitigate the air pollution emitted by Colorado’s oil and gas sector.

If successful, the lawsuit would force the EPA to order the State of Colorado to limit the pollution coming from both drilling and hydraulic fracturing activities in both the Metro Denver area and the Denver-Julesburg Basin, according to the petition.

The Denver-Julesburg Basin is a geological rock formation that stretches from southern Colorado into Wyoming along the east side of Colorado’s “Front Range.”

“We’re never going to solve our smog problem until the EPA cracks down on Colorado allowing unlimited air pollution from drilling and fracking,” Robert Ukeiley, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement.

“If it takes a lawsuit to bring about that fix, that’s what we are going to do,” Ukeiley added.

Both the Denver Metro and North Front Range regions have concentrations of ozone — also known as smog — that far exceed EPA standards designed to protect both public health and Colorado’s “natural beauty,” according to the center.

The state’s Air Pollution Control Division — a branch of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment — was required to submit plans to the EPA detailing smog cleanup strategies, a statement accompanying the lawsuit stated.

While the EPA authorized that plan, the center argued that a potential loophole could allow for unlimited pollution from drilling and fracking, according to the statement.

Ukeiley submitted the petition on behalf of the Center for Biological Diversity to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Court on Tuesday, asking that both the EPA and its administrator be required to revisit that approval.

Oil and natural gas production remains one of the biggest contributors to smog in Colorado, the statement from the center argued. Meanwhile, ozone pollution is linked to a variety of health problems like asthma and other respiratory issues.

“Every additional day of delay in reducing smog puts more children and families at risk for potentially deadly diseases,” Ukeiley said.

In response to the filing, a spokesperson for the EPA said that “because this is pending litigation EPA has no further information to add.”

The Hill has also reached out to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment for comment.

Tags Colorado EPA fracking oil and gas smog

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