Delays possible for new Colorado drilling rules

DENVER — Colorado regulators looking at new air quality rules for oil and gas drillers may need more time.

Colorado’s Air Quality Control Commission was anticipating possible delays at its meeting Thursday. The group is looking at stricter air controls for an industry that is one of Colorado’s top air polluters.

Environmental activists have been hoping the commission is stricter on the industry than the agency that regulates spills, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission. The Air Quality Control Commission is part of the state health department.

The air quality panel is considering new rules including tighter emission controls on storage tanks and expanding pollution control requirements that currently apply in Front Range.

A Tuesday letter from Gov. John Hickenlooper to the head of the air quality panel called the work a “significant undertaking.”

Hickenlooper appointed the air quality commissioners and extended the terms of four of the panel’s nine members. The governor did not say how much longer the commission would need to finish its work, and a spokesman for the state health department did not confirm a delay.

The Denver Post reported last month that oil and gas emissions now are the main source of volatile organic compounds in Colorado and the third-largest source of nitrogen oxides.