Colorado’s vaunted oil and gas rules are flawed and inadequately enforced

    Detlev Helmig Interview

    The Following is an excerpt from a Colorado Independent story titled Colorado’s vaunted oil and gas rules are flawed and inadequately enforced, by Daniel Glick of The Story Group, published April 16, 2019, with additional reporting by Lars Gesing and John Herrick.


    A new study was published recently by CU scientists who set up monitoring devices in what co-author Raineer Volkamer, a fellow at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and University of Colorado professor called the “methane dome” of the Denver-Julesburg Basin. Volkamer and lead author Natalie Killie concluded that oil and gas operations were responsible for most of the methane produced in the Basin, with agricultural sources providing an important but minor source.

    “There’s so much more that could be done,” said Detlev Helmig, a research scientist at the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research at CU Boulder who works on the state’s only continuously operating monitoring operation to measure oil and gas emissions. “We’re just scratching the surface.”

    Helmig’s monitoring site is located at Boulder Reservoir and funded by Boulder County and the University of Colorado with some contribution from CDPHE. Helmig and colleagues have measured extraordinarily high readings of chemicals that their data show are unmistakably coming from the oil and gas fields in Weld County. These emissions, they say, are contributing to high ozone readings in Front Range cities such as Boulder, where there is little oil and gas activity.

    The Story Group is an independent, multimedia, journalism company based in Boulder. Its reporting on the aftermath of a fracking site explosion in Windsor, Colorado recently won the National Press Foundation Thomas L. Stokes award for Best Energy and Environment Writing. Daniel Glick is former Newsweek correspondent who has written for National Geographic, Rolling Stone and dozens of other national and international publications. Ted Wood is photojournalist who has worked for Vanity Fair, Time, and many other publications.

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