Moffat County Commission issues letter on air quality regulations |

Moffat County Commission issues letter on air quality regulations

Joe Moylan

The Moffat County Commission unanimously approved Tuesday issuing letters in support of a hold on proposed Environmental Protection Agency air quality regulations.

The letters, dated Oct. 25, will be sent to President Barack Obama and Gov. John Hickenlooper.

The commission decided to issue the letters in response to comments made by Obama and Hickenlooper that increased EPA air quality regulations would put a financial burden on businesses during unsteady economic times.

In the letter, the commission states that it agrees with those comments and cites that 47 percent of local income and 22 percent of the jobs in Moffat County are directly tied to the coal, oil and gas, and power generation industries.

"We are extremely concerned about the negative impact additional regulation might have on these industries and the supporting businesses that depend on these primary employers," the letter states.

The letter continues to state that the commission supports appropriate regulations that contribute to a clean environment, but is opposed to unnecessary rules that are politically driven and not based on scientific data.

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The commissioners point to the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission's decision to increase emission controls on local power generation plants as an example of a resolution that was politically motivated and not based on "good science."

The commission also cites the EPA's involvement in Little Snake's land use plan in which the agency advised the local Bureau of Land Management office to conduct an additional year's worth of visibility and general air quality studies that added "tens of thousands of dollars" to the expense of the project.

"The Moffat County Commissioners ultimately know that when energy producer's costs go up, they are passed on to consumers," the letter states.

The commission closes the letter by requesting advance notice before new regulations are proposed or implemented.

"Advance communication will assure that unnecessary regulation does not negatively affect our primary employers, yet will still allow the environmental sustainability that we are accustomed to in Northwest Colorado," the letter states.

Commissioner Tom Gray said he was in favor of issuing the letter, but wished there was a way to put a hard figure on the number of secondary businesses that also depend on the vitality of the energy industry.

"They're really good letters," Gray said. "But, it's unfortunate we can't say that for every job out there in the primary industries, like a coal mine, so many other people's jobs are supported by having that industry in the area.

"Because, in reality, more than 22 percent of Moffat County jobs are tied to our primary industries."

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In other action …

At its regular meeting Tuesday, the Moffat County Commission:

• Approved, 3-0, a final settlement with Connell Resources for 2011 paving projects.

• Approved, 3-0, a final settlement with Patriot Highway Markings for 2011 striping projects.

• Approved, 3-0, a rate development process for Moffat County facilities management.

• Awarded, 3-0, an engineer contract for the Maybell Sanitation District to Glenwood Springs-based Schmueser, Gordon, Meyer, Inc. for $6,500 to $8,500.

• Heard a request from Michael Bergstrom of Shell Exploration and Production to close Moffat County Road 93 for 60 to 90 days next spring to conduct exploratory drilling operations.

• Approved, 3-0, moving a part-time detention deputy to full-time.

• Approved, 3-0, a health insurance board recommendation to drop employee health insurance provider Cigna for Cofinity in 2012.