Air Quality Control Commission to delay rulemaking process

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After three more Colorado communities voted Tuesday to ban fracking, Gov. John Hickenlooper, who has defended the oil and gas industry, finds himself facing a rising insurrection from within his own party.

DENVER — The Colorado Air Quality Control Commission will move Thursday to delay a rulemaking process aimed at reducing pollution from oil and gas industry sources, FOX31 Denver has learned.

The AQCC was considering issuing a notice of rulemaking on Thursday, which would have allowed the process to begin in 90 days, some time during the late fall.

Now it appears the rulemaking is being put off until early next year, largely because officials need more time to negotiate new rules that satisfy environmental advocates pushing to reduce pollution along the Front Range and the state’s booming oil and gas industry, which emits at least 600 tons of contaminants into the air every day.

A nine-member panel of air quality control commissioners appointed by Gov. John Hickenlooper must approve any proposed air pollution rules.

It had been thought that the rulemaking would be completed before year’s end, with four commissioners’ terms expiring in January.

But on Monday, after CDPHE staff told the Commission it wasn’t ready to submit a draft rule, Hickenlooper sent a letter to AQCC Chairman, John Lowey, informing him that the four Commission members whose terms expire on Jan. 31, 2014 will have their terms extended so they can help finalize the rules next year.

“We understand that this will be a significant undertaking, and that the current Commission will need to remain involved in the technical aspects of this rulemaking, as well as the evolving nature of the discussions in formulating a final rule package,” Hickenlooper wrote in the letter obtained by FOX31 Denver.