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Residents Of Gas Patch In Colorado Suffering In Silence

in the state was passed, and that also made a difference.

According to Rada, some of the energy companies operating in the area have also adopted measures to reduce emissions. "Some companies are trying to route gas to combustors instead of burning off the gas above ground. While there are still problems with leaking equipment, for example, they are trying to reduce emissions," he opines.

Several producers, including EnCana, Noble and Williams, participate in the Environmental Protection Agency's Natural Gas Star program "to eliminate fugitive emissions from oil and gas" operations. "EnCana has new solar pumps on well sites that reduce fugitive emissions by 80 percent," Rada adds.

So far, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC), received six specific health complaints last year and 89 complaints about fumes or odors, according to COGCC hearings manager Tricia Beaver. Some of the odor complaints could also be associated with health concerns, but the agency doesn't track them that way, she added.

When field inspectors get a complaint about odors "they go out and see if they can smell or observe the same conditions." Sometimes inspectors can't identify the problem. "I do know some of the odor complaints, even if we get out quickly, the field folks don't always smell the same thing, Beaver was quoted. Nor does the agency have the expertise to respond to health complaints, she adds.

Now, with the passage of House Bill 1341, new non- industry members will be added to the commission, including a representative from the state health department. Says Rep. Kathleen Curry, who sponsored many of those bills: "By giving the health department a voice on the commission, I think we have taken a major step forward in terms of regulating the industry's impacts to public health. By requiring rulemaking to protect public health we have also moved the issue forward as a mandate instead of a consideration
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