The January 28 SiltBOTs meeting featured the Garfield County Air Monitoring Report presented by Paul Reaser (GarCo Environmental Health Manager) and Gordon Pierce (Technical Services Program Manager for the Colorado Dept of Public Health & Environment Air Pollution Control Division). County Administrator Andrew Gorgey and Commissioner John Martin were also present.
Reaser gave his part of the presentation in person, but Pierce was not there and gave his part via speakerphone. Unfortunately Pierce’s presentation was garbled and I couldn’t understand a word he said, nor will you. For that reason their report doesn’t make any sense.
If that link doesn’t work, click here then click on Garfield County Air Monitoring
A Board discussion followed the presentation. Several of the Board members laid out their positions on air quality as well as oil & gas drilling. If you are a Silt resident, you need to watch this discussion part of the video. You need to know where the Board members stand on these important issues.
These are the three main points I took away from the Board discussion:
1. There is no public health crisis in Garfield County due to air quality.
In other words, the air has to get a whole lot worse and more people need to get sick and die before Garfield County and the Town of Silt will consider doing anything to improve our air quality. They need to study it some more, hence the much-touted ongoing CSU air quality study. Residents with asthma or other respiratory ailments should take note of this, as well as those with compromised immune systems. Senior citizens and those of you with infants and small children should definitely pay attention. Your health issues are not considered serious enough for the town or county to take any action to improve air quality. Public health in Silt and Garfield County is based on survival of the fittest.
Remember, the county and the CDPHE do not monitor for methane. Two recent NOAA studies showed high levels of methane from drilling operations in Weld County and Uinta Basin (Utah), and another recent study revealed chemical emissions associated with drilling in Erie, Colorado. They also don’t test for methylene chloride, which was detected in high concentrations, along with other chemical emissions, in Dr. Colborn’s study.
2. There is no need for air quality monitoring in the town of Silt.
That’s right. The Town of Silt is not concerned about the current state of our air quality. Even though data exists from 2005-2007, when air quality was monitored in Silt and found no problems, so they could monitor the air quality now and compare it to the data from 5-7 years ago and see if there has been any significant change over time – for whatever reasons. However the SiltBOTs lack the courage necessary to take such a bold step.
3. Those who oppose the oil & gas drilling are hypocrites.
As global concerns about climate change increase the demand for alternative energy sources, and the demand for natural gas continues to decline along with the price, some of the board members may find themselves on the wrong side of evolution. Sort of like fossils defending fossil fuels. If our grave concern for the future of the planet and our desire to protect public health and the environment makes us hypocrites, then so be it. As the operators gradually move out and leave the rest of us to clean up their messes – perhaps then they will understand.
I watched the meeting on TV instead of going to the Town Hall. I have already said everything I have to say to town and county officials regarding air quality. None of this came as a surprise to me. A year ago I asked the town for an ordinance which would limit diesel and gasoline engine idling to five minutes. This is a common way for towns and cities to address the public health/air quality issue, however Silt has not even take this small step. When it comes to air quality, Garfield County and town of Silt have no credibility.
Ideally local governments should be partners with state and federal governments to regulate industry and protect public health and the environment. But I have learned a great deal about air quality during the past year. The most significant thing I’ve learned is when local officials fall short of their responsibilities there are other agencies and organizations looking over their shoulders, as evidenced by the recent studies. I know with certainty that our voices – the voices of the hypocrites – are being heard far beyond the boundaries of Garfield County while the voices of our local governments can’t even be heard in the same room.
If you are interested in attending a presentation of the Garfield County Air Monitoring Report, it is on the Energy Advisory Board Agenda for Thursday, February 7 (click here for agenda). I hope they get their speakerphone problem solved or it won’t make any more sense than the presentation in Silt.