WildEarth Guardians Sues To Close Colorado’s 90-Day Air Pollution ‘Loophole’

<p>Hart Van Denburg/CPR News</p>
<p>A drilling installation south of Dacono on April 2, 2019.</p>
Photo: Weld County Oil And Gas Near Homes 7 HV
A drilling installation south of Dacono on April 2, 2019.

WildEarth Guardians has filed suit against seven oil companies — including Denver-based Extraction Oil and Gas — over air pollution.

The group alleges in federal district court that the companies released volatile organic compounds from production facilities in violation of the federal Clean Air Act.

“It’s time for the oil and gas industry to come clean, both legally and also literally come clean,” said WildEarth Guardians Climate and Energy Program Director Jeremy Nichols.

Extraction Oil and Gas didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The companies named in the lawsuit followed Colorado law. However, WildEarth Guardians alleges each took advantage of a state law loophole that allows 90 days after the time wells are brought into production before pollutants are regulated. The lawsuit names the well production facilities that emitted volatile organic compounds that may exceed federal Clean Air Act limits during that window.

As The Associated Press reports, the companies are required to install pollution control devices in that timeframe, but state inspectors don’t follow up unless there is a complaint.

“A loophole exists, it has been approved by the [Environmental Protection Agency] in the past. But it only applies in the sense that you’re not a major source,” Nichols said.

Volatile organic compounds are a major contributor to ground level ozone. Colorado is currently designated as a nonattainment area under federal EPA standards.

Read More: 90-Day Exemption Allows Oil And Gas Drillers To Pollute Without Federal Emissions Permit