On August 25th, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) ordered Prospect Energy to cease operations at the Krause MSSU Central Tank Battery.
This is a life changing win for the local residents who we have been working with for over 18 months to document chronic pollution from this facility and other nearby Prospect Energy facilities. We’ve documented this saga here and here. For the first time in years, residents have some reassurance that they are breathing clean air.
It is also a testament to the tireless persistence of local community groups who have been pushing for state and local governments to act on behalf of public health and to the hard work of Air Pollution Control Division (APCD) and Larimer County staff who have exposed numerous violations at the facility. After all of this effort there is one less chronic polluter in Colorado and that is a significant achievement.
The APCD considered this intervention “an exceptional and rare course of action.” That is wrong. This action should be the model for how to prioritize public health and the environment over oil and gas development. By ordering this facility to shut down, CDPHE is finally arriving at the same conclusion that the local residents have been stressing for over a year: chronic polluters do not belong in Colorado communities and are a threat to Colorado’s climate ambitions. This action should mark the beginning of a shift that emboldens local and state officials in Colorado to exercise authority to hold polluters accountable.
Even at the Krause facility, further action will likely be necessary.
After the facility shut down we surveyed the facility on August 28th and documented pollution from one of the produced water tanks; the same source of pollution that initially led us to notify the APCD of issues at the site in January 2021. Oil and gas facilities that are not producing can still pollute because oil and gas infrastructure is designed to pollute, so constant vigilance will be necessary to ensure that until the Krause facility is ultimately cleaned up no further pollution impacts nearby residents.
Despite the landmark passage of SB-181 there is still a sense of the inevitable in how easily the oil and gas industry has been allowed to shrug off their harmful practices as the price of doing business.
What we have demonstrated with this successful effort to shut down the Krause facility is that another reality is possible, one in which Colorado’s leaders and regulatory agencies live up to their promise to stand up for communities and protect the environment. Will this continue to be “exceptional” or will it be a new standard for Colorado? We cannot let up. We will not let up. We will continue to stand with communities and fight for a cleaner, healthier, more livable present and future in Colorado.