Legal Action Threatened Over Clean Air Act Violations in Colorado

On Tuesday, WildEarth Guardians, an environmental advocacy group, formally threatened seven oil and gas companies with Clean Air Act lawsuits. The group alleges that the companies, which include Noble Energy, Extraction Oil and Gas and Crestone Peak Resources, launched fracking operations without previously getting the required permits. The companies face more than $1.3 billion in penalties over the violations.



Jeremy Nichols of Wild Earth Guardians says that the seven firms are responsible for major sources of ozone-forming pollution.

“These permits are hugely important, they’re not just trivial pieces of paper, they’re supposed to impose very stringent emission limitations and intense scrutiny on their operations to assure they don’t worsen this region’s smog problem.”

Nichols says that state agencies, particularly the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE) seem to be turning their back to these issues. However he adds that federal law allows for citizen groups to enter the situation and enforce the law. WildEarth Guardians is doing just that with the notices they’ve sent out to the seven oil and gas companies. Within the notices they advice the companies that to resolve the ongoing violations, the companies need to pay penalties, and agree to a federally enforceable consent decree.

The American Lung Association issued Denver county a D grade for ozone pollution in 2017. Ozone is a colorless and odorless gas, capable of triggering asthma attacks, causing respiratory inflammation and irritation, worsening emphysema, and has been linked to premature death. Every oil and gas facility releases air pollution, which manifests itself in the ground level ozone pollution, regularly exceeding federally established health limits.